Uganda judge says Besigye treason trial to proceed

KAMPALA – A Ugandan judge ruled on Wednesday that treason proceedings against opposition leader Kizza Besigye which have worried Western donors and dominated the run-up to last month’s election will go ahead.

High Court Judge Vincent Kagaba said defence objections that t

he case was riddled with technical defects and should therefore be dropped were “wishful thinking”.

Besigye, 49, lost elections last month in the east African country that extended President Yoweri Museveni 20-year rule.

Supporters of Besigye, who was Museveni’s physician during a bush war that brought him to power in 1986, say the prosecution was aiming to sideline him during the campaign. They are also challenging the results of the polls in the Supreme Court.

Kagaba said the indictment against Besigye met Uganda’s legal requirements. “This court will apply the law as it exists on the statute books now,” he said.

The case was adjourned until April 4, when Besigye and 22 men accused with him are due to enter pleas on the charges.

Despite Wednesday’s setback Besigye has won two small victories in his various legal battles with the state.

Last week, Museveni said his former ally would not also face terrorism charges before a military court martial.

And on the same day, Besigye was cleared on a separate rape charge after another High Court judge said prosecutors had failed “dismally” to prove their case against him.

Various Western donors — who fund half the Ugandan budget — have cut aid in recent months over the Besigye saga and other worries about democratic erosion in Uganda. — Reuter

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