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Besigye back on the road

Virunga Mountains

KAMPALA, 2 Jan 2006 (IRIN) - Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye, who is charged with treason and rape, was freed on bail on Monday after the High Court in Kampala ruled that his continued detention was illegal.

"The accused should be released forthwith unless he is being held on other charges," John Katutsi, the High Court judge, said.

He said the defence's argument that Besigye faced separate terrorism and possession of weapons charges before a military tribunal could not be used as an excuse to keep him in prison.

Besigye, 49, was released soon after the woman he allegedly raped in 1997 testified against him.

He was driven out of the court compound accompanied by his wife, Winnie, as a crowd of his supporters ululated and sang in his praise. The police had earlier used tear gas to disperse a crowd that tried to gather outside the court house.

Besigye, who heads the opposition Forum for Democratic Change, is widely seen as President Yoweri Museveni's main challenger in presidential elections scheduled for February.

Besigye, Museveni's former doctor, was arrested in mid-November three weeks after returning to Uganda from four years of self-imposed exile in South Africa where he fled after losing the presidential elections to Museveni in 2001. He claimed then that his life was in danger.

Free Uganda


  • In the Novermber 26th 2005 European edition of Time Magazine, Simon Robinson writes an essay titled: "Africa's Game of Follow the Leader" in which he describes the drawbacks of one man rule vs the importance of strong institutions: ... "Good leaders can turn bad if they stay in office long enough; faults become obvious; people compromise to hold on to power; ... Its not just in Africa. There are plenty of erstwhile supportes of Tony Blair who would be happy to see the back of him. The same goes for one-time fans of Jacques Chirac and George Bush. A key difference is that the institutions in the countries those men lead - Parliament, the Judiciary, the Press - are bigger than any one person and counterbalance the worst excesses. Thats still not a given in Africa."

    For all those Ugandans going to the polls next month, think about what your vote to change the current leadership might do for our country: The critical donor aid for one would be immediately restored. A new government would also restore investor confidence in our economy. These are to mention but a few of the benefits of a change in leadership. That's why it so critical and necessary that Ugandans of common sense and good judgement vote for the long overdue change in leadership for our country.

  • "The computer and the Internet are the most potent weapon against tyranny since the concept of liberty itself." John Steele Gordon

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