One man in Uganda has vowed not to shave until a longstanding opponent of President Yoweri Museveni, Kizza Besigye, is released.
Speaking to journalists, Mubarak Munyagwa declared a boycott on shaving adding that he will stand by his vow for as long as it takes in support of the release of Besigye who was re-arrested last week, a day before Museveni was sworn in for a fifth term. Besigye’s arrest came a few hours after he swore himself in as Uganda’s ‘President’.
“First of all, I will boycott any form of shaving on my body; let it be my head or my beard. I will not shave again,” said Munyagwa adding that Besigye should be left alone. “The man has suffered a lot. We shall fight for the freedom of Colonel Besigye. There is no question about that,” he added.
Munyagwa, a member of Besigye’s Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party and Kawempe Division Mayor is known for his controversial moves in responding to political matters. Last December, Munyagwa showed up for a nomination event on a boda boda (commercial motorbikes used to ferry goods and people). He was escorted by a convoy of a few boda bodas, attracting the attention from the media and other candidates who had shown up for the occasion.
Besigye has been arrested several times prior to the elections, and even after the February 18 polls, which saw Museveni garner 61 percent of the vote and 35 percent for the opposition leader. Besigye dismissed the vote as rigged and has since been on a campaign trail to invalidate what he calls Museveni’s “illegal presidency”.
The poll was marred by fear and intimidation, foreign observers said.
In a BBC interview, however, Museveni rejected accusations of vote rigging. He claimed Besigye was out to incite violence. He insisted that "Transparency is what we've (Ugandans) been voting for."
Besigye charged with treason
Following the dramatic event, the ‘swearing in’ of Besigye as President, Ugandan President on Monday ordered probe over how the opposition leader escaped house arrest prior to the Thursday inauguration.
The Observer reported that the investigating team will include officers from the presidential guard unit called the Special Forces Command (SFC) and some officers from the Police Professional Standards Unit (PSU). The team has less than two weeks to report its findings.
The Ugandan opposition leader has been under virtual house arrest since the February elections. He was arrested in downtown Kampala last Wednesday and was charged with treason, his lawyers said.
"We have been informed by police today that Besigye appeared in court in Moroto and was charged with treason," said his lawyer Erias Lukwago.
Lukwago told AFP newswire that his client was denied legal representation when charged with treason on Friday. Besigye will remain in custody until the next hearing set for May 25.
"It's absurd because none of us was there to represent him."
On Monday, Moroto Chief Magistrate, Charles Yeteise granted the State permission to transfer Besigye to Luzira Prisons.
In 2005, Besigye was charged with treason ahead of the 2006 presidential elections, but the case was later dropped. Treason is a capital crime in the East African nation, but death penalty has not been exercised in years.
Image credit: Ben Curtis/AP