DECEMBER 13, 2005
Posted: Jauary 23, 2006

James Tumusiime, The Weekly ObserverSsemujju Ibrahim Nganda, The Weekly Observer

Editor Tumusiime and reporter Nganda of the privately owned newspaper The Weekly Observer were summoned to a police station in the capital, Kampala, where they were held for about five hours and charged with “promoting sectarianism,” according to local sources. The charges stemmed from a December 1 report by Nganda that the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) had accused President Yoweri Museveni and three top military officials of persecuting FDC leader Kizza Besigye on ethnic grounds.

The journalists were released on bail, but were required to report to police every week, according to Tumusiime. No trial date was immediately set. The charges under Uganda’s penal code mean the two could face up to five years’ imprisonment.

Besigye was arrested on treason, terrorism, and rape charges in mid-November, after returning from exile to challenge Museveni in elections scheduled for February 23. The Ugandan High Court ruled on January 2 that he should be released on bail. Besigye is seen as Museveni’s closest challenger in the elections.