A court in Uganda released veteran opposition figure Kizza Besigye on bail on Friday after spending two weeks in jail awaiting trial on charges of inciting violence.
Besigye, aged 66, was detained on June 14 in the capital Kampala as he led protests against skyrocketing consumer prices. He was charged with inciting violence the following day and his initial bail application made that day, was denied.
On Friday, his lawyers applied for bail again and a magistrate ordered Besigye’s release saying he was “satisfied that the accused’s sureties are substantial”, according to a live video feed on Besigye’s Facebook account of the court proceedings.
The opposition figure will pay 2.5 million Kenyan shillings ($665) as bail as one of the conditions for his release. He was ordered to appear in court again on July 29.
Ugandans have expressed widespread anger at the steep surge in prices of fuel, cooking oil, soap, wheat and other goods and the government’s refusal to intervene to cushion consumers.
Besigye has been calling for tax cuts to offset the rising inflation rate, but President Yoweri Museveni has rejected the idea, blaming the high prices on the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Museveni, in power since 1986, is now Africa’s fourth longest-ruling leader and the opposition and critics have accused him of rigging the polls and using security forces to maintain his grip on power. Museveni denies the accusations.
Besigye has run against Museveni four times in the past and lost although he rejected the results, alleging fraud. He has been arrested many times in the past.