Two Key U.S. Members of Congress Want Bobi Wine Treason Charges Dropped


Rep. Bass and Rep. Sherman. Photos–

As external pressure mounts on the Ugandan regime, two members of Congress have called for treason charges against the popular Member of Parliament Robert Kyagulanyi, a.k.a Bobi Wine, and his colleagues to be dropped.

The 36-year old lawmaker returned to Uganda to a heroic welcome Thursday after medical treatment in the United States for injuries sustained at the hands of the Special Forces Command (SFC), a parallel national army whose task solely is for protection of the country’s dictator, Gen. Yoweri Museveni, and the oil fields. SFC reports to Gen. Muhoozi Kaenerugaba, son to Museveni, who’s been in power 32 years.

The Members of Congress, Brad Sherman and Karen Bass, both belong to the Democratic Party and are members of the foreign affairs committee.

The U.S. backs the Museveni regime with more than $1 billion annually in taxpayers’ money in the form of financial and military support.

In addition to calling for charges to be dropped against Bobi Wine and his parliamentary colleagues –Gerald Karuhanga, Francis Zaake, Paul Mwiru, and, Kasiano Wadri; and former MP Michael Mabikke– the Members of Congress also want charges dismissed against “hundreds of individual citizens around the country who have recently been detained and beaten under false pretenses.”

Bobi Wine and other opposition members of Parliament were arrested and brutalized Aug. 13 when they traveled to the city of Arua to support an opposition candidate in a Parliamentary by-election race. Bobi Wine’s driver Yasin Kawuma was shot dead while seated on the passenger’s seat and the lawmaker believes he was the intended target.

Nevertheless, tbe opposition candidate, Kasiano Wadri, defeated the ruling party’s candidate, even though he was in prison when the vote was conducted Aug. 15.

The popularity of the opposition lawmakers soared in Uganda after word got out that they had been beaten during their arrests and tortured. They together with several dozens of their supporters were charged with treason. Zaake, severely injured, is receiving medical treatment in India.

The Museveni regime claims the opposition leaders incited their followers to throw stones at the presidential convoy, shattering the rear view window of one vehicle.

Skeptics believe the charges are a ruse to coverup the terror unleashed by the regime in an attempt to intimidate opposition supporters on the eve of an election it realized it was about to lose.

The letter by Rep. Sherman and Rep. Bass notes that since Kyagulanyi’s arrest demonstrations “have erupted around the country” and that “State police and security forces have fired teargass and used live ammunition on protesters. Videos have surfaced of the Ugandan army beating journalists that covered the demonstrations.”

“Suppressing political dissent is a dangerous trend–one that must be reversed if Uganda truly wants to embrace democratic ideals,” the letter warns.

In addition to calling for the regime to drop all charges against Kyagulanyi and his colleagues the lawmakers said, “We also call for a thorough investigation into all allegations of violence against Kyagulanyi, his colleagues, demonstrators and journalists.”

The letter concludes: “Finally, we urge the government to halt efforts to silence the political opposition.”

The September 21 dated letter is addressed to
Mull Ssebujja Katende, Uganda’s ambassador to the United States.

Both Houses Congress have now weighed in against the intensified human rights abuses since Aug. 13 under Gen. Museveni. Earlier last week, on Sept. 18, a bi-partisan group of five Senators condemned the “backsliding” on democracy and abuses.

Similarly, the European Union (EU) whose support amounts to almost 40% of the Ugandan regime’s budget has said development assistance will be linked to respect for democracy, human rights, the rule of law, the treatment of journalists, and freedom of expression and of assembly.

In a related development Ugandans in Diaspora, from New York, New Jersey, Boston and Washington, D.C., are holding a protest rally against ongoing human rights abuses in their native country outside the United Nations headquarters on Sept. 26 at 1PM.

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