Uganda Quashes Treason Case Against Kizza Besigye

The treason case against leader of the new People’s Front for Transformation (PFT) and four-time Ugandan presidential candidate, Kizza Besigye has been withdrawn.

He was initially charged for allegedly swearing-in himself as president following the disputed polls in 2016. Although it was not clear if Besigye was informed of the development under the reign of Justice Mike Chibita as the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in December 2019, a statement signed off by the then DPP Chibita reads in part:

 “This is to inform court that the Director of Public Prosecutions has decided to discontinue proceedings against Rtd Col Kizza Besigye Kifefe charged with treason”

Legal sources said the form was filed before Nakawa Court’s registry, but it was not followed with the formal withdrawal process that involves court convening with the accused person/persons in attendance.

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Ugandan police confront opposition leader Kizza Besigye (R) moments before he was arrested for the third time this month on April 21, 2011 as they broke up a new “walk to work” protest with tear gas. AFP PHOTO/MARC HOFER / AFP PHOTO / MARC HOFER

One of the lawyers who represented Besigye in the case, Ernest Kalibaala, said he was not aware of the development. He said the withdrawal could have been done secretly.

“If it was withdrawn, I have never seen the documentation, maybe it was done secretly. I heard about it the other day,” Kalibaala said.

“Usually, when you have a nolle prosequi (the withdrawal form), the accused (Dr Besigye) is made aware of it, you may find that doctor (Besigye) is not aware,” he added.

The treason charges were slapped against Besigye after a video clip of his alleged swearing-in went viral on social media on May 11, 2016, on the eve of President Museveni’s planned swearing-in for his fifth elective term in office.

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After being charged with treason in Moroto District, Besigye was transferred to Nakawa Court in Kampala and charged afresh.

Besigye had refused to return to the court, citing delay in concluding investigations and having him committed to the High Court to stand trial.

“This matter has been going on for over eight months and it has extremely constrained me. It is costly both in time and resources moving to this court over charges that are not going anywhere,” he said at his last court appearance in 2017.

“I will respectfully want to inform this court that I will not come back. When investigations are done, they can inform me. I will only come back to this court as a prisoner if they choose to arrest me,” he added.

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