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Besigye trial flops in Mbarara as Amuriat, Munyagwa are issued with criminal summons

Besigye says he will not show up before Mbarara Chief Magistrate again should the case fail to take off in October.

MBARARA | Dr Kizza Besigye on Thursday covered the 265km stretch to Mbarara to honour another of his many trials but the two-and-a-half hour journey turned into a usual legal formality when the court pushed the trial to October 19.

However, this was not before the Magistrates Court in the western town of Mbarara issued criminal summons for Opposition Forum for Democratic Change president Patrick Oboi Amuriat and MP Mubarak Munyagwa.

Munyagwa and Amuriat had skipped the court, preferring to travel to travel to West Nile instead of ‘just western’ Uganda to campaign for Arua Municipality FDC candidate Bruce Musema.

Dr Besigye, his driver Fred Kato, FDC mobiliser Ingrid Turinawe and the two others are charged with inciting violence and destroying police equipment over a November 2017 opposition rally that turned chaotic in Mbarara.

The Opposition leader Thursday morning appeared before the magistrate for hearing of the case but the State instead demanded that all the five accused had to be in court for the hearing.

State attorney Carol Kesuubi argued that the absence of Amuriat and Munyagwa was jeopardizing proceedings.

“We are prepared and ready to proceed with this case, out witnesses are also in court but the absence of Amuriat and Munyagwa make it difficult for us to proceed,” Kesuubi told the magistrate as she prayed for the two FDC leaders to be served with criminal summons to compel them to appear before the court next time.

But scenting a delay tactic, Erias Lukwago, who was representing Besigye and his co-accused, pressed Kesuubi to produce the said state witnesses in court.

Magistrate Sanyu Mukasa soon found out that the state attorney had played for time as the witnesses were not available.

A frustrated Besigye threatened to make only one final appearance before the magistrate if the case does not take off.

“October 19 will be my final appearance before this court if the case does not proceed. We will not keep wasting time and resources coming to Mbarara to do nothing. There is no case before this court,” Besigye said.

In November last year, Police blocked Besigye and his co-accused from passing through Mbarara Town High Street on their way to Kakyeka Stadium where Amuriat, who is vying for the FDC presidency, was expected to address a campaign rally.

At the time, the Constitution was facing controversial amendment in Parliament with plans to scrap presidential age limit. The opposition had united to strongly oppose the amendment under the banner of ‘Togikwatako’ campaign.

The FDC presidential campaign coincided with the opposition age limit amendment and the state was active in blocking opposition activities and campaigns against lifting of the age limit.

The blocking of Besigye had seen Mbarara residents become chaotic and engaged Police in running battles.

Besigye and his co-accused were arrested and detaining in Kabale District over the incident.

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