Yoweri Museveni Uganda arrests academic who criticised president's wife

Ugandan Scholar Stella Nyanzi Arrested for Criticizing First Lady

Thousands of Ugandans and non-Ugandan supporters globally, many of them operating across a variety of social networks, from Facebook to Twitter, and others setting up physical "Free Stella Nyanzi" campaign groups, have rallied to the support of the fiery, no-nonsense Makerere University academic who has seriously unsettled the embattled Ugandan military regime of General Yoweri Museveni.

On her Twitter handle, she refers to herself as a "queer laughist and writer". She was arrested late on Friday before being charged on Monday, according to a charge sheet seen by Reuters.

"I totally reject the idea that one can not ... and should not criticise the people responsible for abusing the rights of Ugandans and resources of Uganda through thirty-one years of increasing despotic family rule", Nyanzi said in one of her Facebook posts.

Nyanzi appeared in court on Monday. I reject her forgiveness.,' Stella Nyanzi wrote.

She has been remanded in custody until April 25. Arguments over the mental application, which the government premised on a 1938 colonial era law, took all afternoon.

The high-profile case involving Makerere University researcher, Dr Stella Nyanzi, yesterday took another uncanny twist, following reports that the government had sent a medical team to examine the controversial Museveni critic at Luzira prison, where she is incarcerated.


To each charge, she responded with a short animated speech before taking plea. "I just wanted to tell people that I honestly forgave that lady", the first lady said. Outside courtroom, Nicholas Opiyo, one of her lawyers added, "the act of the state resorting to a 1938 law is an act of desperation".

The state attorney told the court that Nyanzi on February 28 used a computer to post an offensive message about the president on her Facebook page.

The states disproportionately harsh prosecution of Dr. Nyanzi may have inadvertently transformed this political virgin into a Ugandan Guevara like icon.

Public sentiment towards her was sharply divided. Some call her courageous, others call her immoral and vulgar, the prosecution in the current case has questioned her mental health.

"The state should stop wasting resources on pointless and politically-motivated prosecutions, immediately drop all charges against her and release her unconditionally".

While the outcome of the legal process is not clear, Ms Nyanzi is not apologetic and shows little sign that it will change her willingness to court controversy.

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