A Sydney based cardiologist and one time presidential hopeful who was accused of terrorism and murder by the Ugandan government has had charges against him dropped.
But Aggrey Kiyingi — who has always maintained his innocence and decried the charges as politically motivated — told the Huffington Post Australia he holds grave fears for six of his political supporters, including his sister-in-law and two brothers-in-law, who are still locked up in Uganda.
Kiyingi, who two years ago declared his ambition to run for president of Uganda, was accused of orchestrating a wave of killings of top Muslim clerics, and the government levelled terrorism, murder and crimes against humanity charges against him.
But last month Uganda’s director of public prosecutions discontinued all the charges against him. Six others charged alongside Kiyingi are still facing numerous charges, he said, including terrorism, murder and attempted murder, as well as aiding rebels who wanted to oust the current government. “They have not amended their charges… and they have dropped my charges,” Kiyingi said. “I thought maybe they did this for the international arena, so Dr Kiyingi is off the list so no one pays attention to the trial. “I wish the international community would follow the trial.” Like the charges once levelled at him, Kiyingi has dismissed those laid against the six as political. He said they helped handout election material – political pamphlets in the shape of business cards. The six are expected back in court at the end of May.
Kiyingi told HuffPost Australia his brothers-in-law — Yousuf Sentamu and Mihammad Kalodo — were snatched from a Dubai street by authorities and have languished in a Uganda prison since December. In September last year Kiyingi’s supporters were blocked from picking up election nomination forms. Uganda’s Electoral Commission said Kiyingi was ineligible to stand for any elective office because he is not a registered voter in the country. President Yoweri Museveni has ruled Uganda since 1986 and was elected to another five-year term in early 2016 with 60.8 percent of the vote. In March the country’s highest court rejected an opposition petition to nullify the results of the disputed February election. Uganda’s main opposition leader, Kizza Besigye, received about 35 percent of the vote was last week charged with treason, his second arrest since the election. The main challenger to Museveni in the country’s recent general election, Besigye insists he was the rightful winner of the polls, despite the court upholding the result.
Uganda banned live media coverage of opposition protests against Museveni’s re-election, media organisations warned they risked losing their licence if they covered the protests. At his swearing in ceremony, Museveni reportedly told heads of state diplomats and other guests that he planned to fight corruption and impose discipline on inefficient bureaucrats. It has also been reported he offended U.S., European Union and Canadian officials when he criticised the International Criminal Court as “a bunch of useless people” amid a social media blackout at the behest of authorities “to limit the possibility of terrorists taking advantage.” Kiyingi had been campaigning from Castle Hill in Sydney, where he runs a practice as a consultant cardiologist, and deployed 1.5 million of the so-called Kiyingi cards to spread his election message. At the time he he alleged numerous supporters had been harassed and beaten and in some cases killed by authorities.
For his part, Kiyingi said he still plans to return to Uganda — but only if there is change. “If there is a change, I can go home,” Kiyingi said. “If I went home now, he wouldn’t allow that plane to land. He would shoot that plane out of the air.” In 2006 he was acquitted of involvement in the shooting murder of his Australian wife, Robinah Kiyingi – a high-profile lawyer who worked for the Ugandan arm of Transparency International.