Uganda Veteran Opposition Figure Kizza Besigye Freed On Bail After Two Weeks in Jail

Veteran Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye sits in the dock at the courtroom where he was charged with inciting violence during a protest against soaring consumer prices, in Kampala, Uganda May 25, 2022. REUTERS/Abubaker Lubowa/File Photo

A court in Uganda released veteran opposition figure Kizza Besigye on bail on Friday after spending two weeks in jail awaiting trial on charges of inciting violence.

Besigye, 66, was detained on June 14 in the capital Kampala as he led protests against sky-rocketing consumer prices and was charged with inciting violence the following day.

His initial bail application made on the day he was charged were denied. read more

On Friday his lawyers applied for bail again and a magistrate agreed to release Besigye saying he was “satisfied that the accused’s sureties are substantial”, according to a live video feed on Besigye’s Facebook account of the court proceedings.

He ordered Besigye to pay 2.5 million shillings ($665) bail cash as one of the conditions for his release. He was ordered to appear in court again on July 29.

Ugandans have expressed widespread anger at the steep surge in prices of fuel, cooking oil, soap, wheat and other goods and government’s refusal to intervene to cushion consumers.

Besigye has been calling for tax cuts to offset inflation, but President Yoweri Museveni has rejected the idea, blaming high prices on the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Museveni, in power since 1986, is now Africa’s fourth longest ruling leader and the opposition and critics have accused him of rigging polls and using security forces to maintain his grip on power. Museveni denies the accusations.

Besigye has run against Museveni four times in the past and lost although he rejected the results alleging fraud. He has been arrested dozens of times before.

SOURCE: Reuters – Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by George Obulutsa and Alison Williams