Ugandan pop star charged with treason

The Ugandan authorities has filed a cost of treason towards a pop star-turned-lawmaker who has emerged as a serious critic of the long-serving president and whose jailing drew outrage from high musicians world wide.

Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, popularly often known as Bobi Wine, was visibly weak and struggled to stroll into court docket from what his lawyer mentioned was a extreme beating whereas in custody. The federal government denied it.

It was the primary time Ssentamu had been seen in public since he was detained on Aug. 13, and he clenched his fists as he greeted supporters. A colleague wrapped a shawl within the colors of Uganda’s nationwide flag round his shoulders.

Ssentamu, centre, arrives at a Justice of the Peace’s court docket in Gulu, northern Uganda. (Related Press)

The 36-year-old was arrested with different lawmakers whereas campaigning for a candidate. He was charged with unlawful possession of firearms for his alleged function in an incident during which the motorcade of President Yoweri Museveni was pelted with stones.

Ssentamu, who was elected to parliament final 12 months, has emerged as an influential critic of Museveni, particularly amongst many educated youth who can not discover work in Uganda, the place hospitals typically lack fundamental medicines, and predominant roads are dangerously potholed.

Ssentamu shakes palms with his supporters in a suburb of Kampala on June 30, 2017. (Isaac Kasamani/AFP/Getty Photos)

In his music video Freedom, he sings from behind bars: “We’re fed up with those that oppress our lives.”

He has protested an unpopular social media tax in addition to a change to the structure that eliminated the presidential age restrict of 75. That provision permits the 74-year-old Museveni, who has been in energy since 1986, to hunt re-election in 2021.

The arrest sparked protests demanding his launch within the capital, Kampala, and elsewhere. Scores of individuals had been detained as safety forces cracked down on demonstrators. Dozens of high musicians, together with Angelique Kidjo, Chris Martin, Chrissie Hynde and Brian Eno, signed a letter demanding Ssentamu’s launch. A social media marketing campaign to #FreeBobiWine was launched.

In Kampala’s Kisekka Market space on Thursday, protesters held posters of Ssentamu, praising him because the “Individuals’s Voice.”

Demonstrations additionally befell in Nairobi and London.

Kenyan activists and civil society teams protest in solidarity with Ssentamu in a march to the Ugandan Embassy in Nairobi, Thursday. (Khalil Senosi/Related Press)

A army court docket within the northern city of Gulu dropped the weapons prices, however Ssentamu was rapidly rearrested, taken to a Justice of the Peace’s court docket and charged with treason, which carries the demise penalty.

He wanted assist to stroll into court docket and appeared to cry at one level. He sat within the dock in Justice of the Peace’s court docket, with his attorneys saying he was unable to face on his personal.

four others additionally arrested

Ssentamu was arrested with 4 different opposition lawmakers, three of whom additionally face treason prices. A fifth legislator has been hospitalized with accidents allegedly sustained throughout detention.

The Justice of the Peace dominated Ssentamu ought to be allowed to see his personal docs, and he was remanded into custody till Aug. 30.

Certainly one of Ssentamu’s attorneys, Medard Sseggona mentioned medical remedy overseas is fascinating, however that Ssentamu first must go to a non-public Ugandan well being facility.

“As to whether or not they can do it’s a totally different matter,” he mentioned.

Different opposition figures expressed concern about being focused by safety forces as Museveni’s authorities has come beneath strain within the Ssentamu case.

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni speaks at a particular celebration convention of South Sudan’s ruling celebration, throughout a go to to Juba, South Sudan, on Could 3. (Bullen Chol/Related Press)

“Each manner out of my house is barricaded since very early at the moment,” tweeted Kizza Besigye, a four-time presidential challenger who has been jailed many instances.

Police spokesperson Emilian Kayima later mentioned Besigye was arrested when he tried to pressure his manner out. The spokesperson mentioned forces additionally had been deployed on the houses of sure Ugandans after receiving intelligence that some “wished to interact in prison actions.”

Detained whereas campaigning

​Ssentamu’s arrest got here after he was campaigning for a lawmaker within the northwestern city of Arua. Museveni additionally was in Arua on the time, campaigning for a rival candidate who finally misplaced.

Whereas the president was departing, authorities mentioned, his motorcade was pelted with stones by folks related with Ssentamu and the candidate he backed, Kassiano Wadri.

Ssentamu’s driver was shot and killed, allegedly by safety forces.

In a press release late Wednesday, Museveni accused “unprincipled politicians” of luring youth into rioting. Addressing calls on social media to free Ssentamu, he mentioned he had no energy to take action.

“Allow us to due to this fact await the courts and see what they determine,” Museveni mentioned.

Museveni, a U.S. ally on regional safety, has been elected 5 instances. Though he has campaigned on a report of creating peace and stability, some fear that these beneficial properties are being eroded the longer he stays in energy.


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