Ugandan MPs Charged With Machete Murders But Opposition Claim It is ‘Political Persecution’
14:55 GMT 07.09.2021 (Updated: 13:52 GMT 01.03.2022)
Yoweri Museveni, who turns 77 next week, was re-elected President of Uganda in January’s general election. He defeated pop star Bobi Wine, of the National Unity Platform, who claimed there had been widespread ballot box stuffing by the ruling party.
Two opposition MPs in Uganda have been charged in connection with a series of horrific murders by gangs wielding machetes.
A lawyer for Muhammad Ssegirinya and Allan Ssewanyana accused the government of President Museveni of "political persecution."
In the last two months villagers in the Masaka region, in southern Uganda, have been terrorised by machete-wielding thugs who have hacked to death around 30 elderly people in their homes after dark.
Ugandan police spokesman Fred Enanga said several men detained on suspicion of carrying out the murders had accused the pair of orchestrating the attacks "to cause fear in the population and cause people to hate the government."
Last month Museveni - who has been in power since 1986 - described the machete killers as "pigs."
Ssegirinya and Ssewanyana, who belong to Bobi Wine’s NUP party, have been charted three counts of murder and one of attempted murder.
Their lawyer Elias Lukwago told AFP: "They denied all the charges...this is political persecution by Museveni's military regime. We condemn in strongest terms use of a skewed judicial process to meet political goals of a party in power."
The MPs will be held in custody at the notorious Kitalya prison near the capital, Kampala.
Bobi Wine said: "When the president said recently the opposition was behind the killings we thought it was a bad joke. But when the police summoned our MPs, we knew the grand plan by the regime to implicate NUP leaders in the killings was being implemented.”
Sarah Kasujja, whose 81-year-old grandfather was one of the victims, said: "As we mourn our relatives who have been killed, we live in fear of being killed by the machete-wielding gangs. Some elderly people who have been living alone... have fled their homes for safety in towns.”
The head of the Uganda National Council for Older Persons, Charles Isabirye, said the killings were a “shock to the nation.”
Mr Isabiriye said: "We demand of government to ensure protection for the older people in the countryside and the people behind them should be identified and punished."
Uganda’s population has risen rapidly in recent years - and is now around 45 million - and 77 percent of Ugandans are under 25.
Despite the changing demographics, the elderly continue to dominate politics and the septuagenarian president shows no signs of wanting to quit.