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Besigye home siege case flops, youths protest

Kasangati Chief Magistrate's court, was set to make a ruling today; as whether police should leave Kizza Besigye’s palatial residence where they have been deployed since the announcement of presidential elections on February 20, 2016.

Yesterday, Grade One Magistrate Prossy Katushabe ruled over objections raised earlier by the State prosecutor Caroline Nabasa in respect to the jurisdiction of the court and the sued entities.

Today however the case case flopped after the High Court reportedly recalled the file for review. Katushabe told a fully-packed court room that she couldn't deliver her ruling since the case file was summoned by High court for examination.

She told the parties involved that she will deliver her ruling once the file is returned to her court. She therefore adjourned the court until further notice.

Besigye's lawyer, David Mpanga stormed out of the court room and drove off without uttering a word. Hundreds of Besigye supporters who had turned up protested the decision of the court to defer the ruling and resolved to march to Besigye's home to pray and commensurate with him. They also 'vowed' to swear him in today as 'president'.

However, they were intercepted by police at Nangabo road leading to a bitter exchange of words.  Police picked up Charles Mutaasa Kafeero, one of the supporters of Besigye for yet unknown reason. Despite the arrest the angry residents vowed to find their way into Besigye's home for prayers.

The police was involved in running battles with the protesters and the press have been blocked several metres away from the road that leads to Besigye’s home.

Government insists that the deployment at Besigye's home is a 'preventive' measure meant to block him from causing chaos and disrupting business in the city, Kampala.

Besigye who enjoys a cult-like status especially among the city dwellers often attracts huge crowds whenever and to wherever he moves. He competed against the incumbent President Museveni in the recently ended controversial, now contested and before the Supreme court presidential elections in which the Electoral Commission announced Museveni winner 60.75% victory and placed FDC candidate Besigye second, with 35.37%.

The deployment has been heavily criticised by human rights activists and diplomats who say it is an infringement on Besigye's right of movement that he should enjoy like any other human being.

Activists have called for Besigye to be formally charged in court if has broken any law but government is having none of it. Visits to Besigye's home were once highly restricted but security has since relaxed although now every visitor is required to register their particulars and are filmed on their way in and out of Besigye's home.

A youth holds a placard in support of Kizza Besigye after court failed to make a ruling today

Nabasa argued that the case was wrongly filed before court and that the plaintiffs erred in suing Police chief General Kale Kayihura instead of the Attorney General. She added that the pleas made were similar to the application filed by Dr Besigye before the civil division whose hearing is set for May.

Mpanga told court that case was lodged against Kayihura because he ordered the siege at Besigye's home and he should take responsibility for all police actions.

Mpanga added that the application before court concerns Dr Besigye's human rights and freedoms that have been curtailed since February 18, the day Uganda went to the polls.

He added that the application is to seek his release under Article 23 sub article 3 and 4 of the constitution that limits detention without trial to 48 hours.

Police deployed in Kasangati to prevent youths from marching to Besigye's home Photos: Nicholas Bamulanzeki

In line with the same argument, Chief Magistrate Katushabe ruled that civil proceedings in the High Court cannot stop hearing of criminal proceedings before Kasangati Chief Magistrate's Court. She added that her court has not received any objection from the Attorney General to the effect that the police chief cannot be sued.

On the basis of the decision, Katushabe directed both parties to file their written submissions yesterday by 3pm.

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