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Court delays Uganda opposition case

KAMPALA, May 18 – A Ugandan court on Wednesday postoned hearing a series of cases against opposition leader Kizza Besigye, all linked to "walk to work" marches he organised to protest the rising cost of living.

Among the charges against Besigye are "unlawful assembly" and "incitement to violence."

Presiding magistrate James Eremy granted defence lawyers\’ request for time to prepare and set June 13 and 16 for the next hearings although prosecutors wanted the case to begin Wednesday.

"I am giving you a new date as I believe it will give counsel for the defence time to prepare," Eremy said.

Security forces have clamped down on the opposition protests against the soaring cost of food and fuel which the opposition blames on bad governance.

On Tuesday, President Yoweri Museveni criticised the police for not cracking down sufficiently hard on the protestors and the courts for being "too soft".

"Weaknesses in the existing laws, too much laxity by the elements of the judiciary and the police allow all this indiscipline and criminality to persist," Museveni said in a statement.

Museveni, who has ruled Uganda for 25 years, last week said he planned to introduce constitutional changes that would see bail prohibited for certain charges, including rioting and economic sabotage.

But as he left the courthouse Wednesday, Besigye said he would press on with the protests and would likely try to walk to work again on Thursday.

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"Yes. There is no reason why we should not," Besigye said.


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