A Ugandan court jailed a prominent academic on Friday for 18 months on cyber harassment charges stemming from a Facebook post that included sexually explicit criticism of long-ruling President Yoweri Museveni. The verdict drew the ire of rights activists who accused the government of using laws about electronic communications to stifle political dissent. Stella Nyanzi, a university lecturer and researcher who once called Museveni “a pair of buttocks”, has drawn the government’s wrath for her attacks on him. Her commentary, laced with profanity, is posted on her Facebook page and often shared widely by her followers. She attended her sentencing session in a court in the centre of the capital Kampala via video link from a maximum security prison by the shores of Lake Victoria on the city’s outskirts. Nyanzi shouted vulgarities and flashed her breasts and a double middle finger on several occasions during the session. Her offence stemmed from a Facebook post last year in which she said she wished Museveni, 74, had been burned up by the “acidic pus” in his mother’s birth canal. “My presence in your Court as a suspect and prisoner highlights multiple facets of dictatorship. I exposed the entrenchment of autocracy,” she wrote in her most recent post, a poem about her court case. “I refuse to be a mere spectator in the struggle to oust the worst dictator.” Joan Nyanyuki, director for East Africa at human rights pressure group Amnesty International, said: “This verdict is outrageous and flies in the face of
Ugandan pop star and opposition figure Bobi Wine said Monday he will challenge longtime President Yoweri Museveni in a 2021 election “on behalf of the people.” But Wine, whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, said he is concerned about his safety after what he believes was an attempt on his life last August. His driver was shot dead in his car after protesters threw stones at the president’s motorcade. Wine’s arrest at the time sparked protests in Uganda’s capital, Kampala. The 37-year-old said he is fearful of harm from running for president because “there has never been a threat to this regime like the threat we pose to it today as a generation.” “I live every day as it comes, not being sure of the next day. I am not blind to the fact that the regime wants me dead and wants me dead as soon as possible.” Bobi Wine Authorities have repeatedly denied Wine is being targeted. As the leader of a popular movement known as “People Power,” Wine has captured the imagination of many who want to see the exit of Museveni, a U.S. ally on regional security who has held power since 1986 and looks set to seek a sixth term. Wine said his aim ahead of the election is “to multiply myself in various young men and women, so that there are as many Bobi Wines as possible.” Uganda has never witnessed a peaceful transfer of power since the East African country gained independence from Britain
Uganda’s government on Monday accused the European Union Parliament of meddling in its internal affairs after the legislator passed a resolution deploring the alleged torture of opposition politicians in the East African country. “For EU parliament to pass a resolution asking the courts of Uganda to drop charges is inconceivable…we see this as a premeditated attempt to hijack and subvert our institutions,” government spokesman Ofwono Opondo told a news conference on Monday.