Uganda

Ugandan academic who insulted the president in court, remanded in prison

Ugandan feminist and academic Stella Nyanzi, who was detained for calling President Yoweri Museveni ‘a pair of buttocks’, appeared in court on Tuesday in the capital Kampala and has been remanded in prison until May 10 pending a bail application, Deutsche Welle (DW) reports.

The university lecturer’s case is seen as a key test for freedom of expression in Uganda and is being widely followed, as few people dare to criticise the country’s first family.

She has been charged with ‘cyber harassment’ and ‘offensive communication’ earlier this month after calling Museveni ‘a pair of buttocks’ and his wife ’empty-brained’ in a Facebook post.

Three days later she was remanded in Luzira Prison.

Museveni, whose wife Janet serves as education minister, came in power in a coup in 1986.

Nyanzi said Ugandans should not be offended by her language, but by Museveni’s failure to keep his promises, including an election pledge to provide free sanitary pads for poor girls so they don’t have skip school.

She was engaged in a social media campaign to raise funds for pads before her arrest.

On Tuesday this week she was remanded in Luzira again until May 10, pending a bail application on Wednesday.

Defense lawyer Nicholas Opiyo said earlier this month that Nyanzi told him that the prison authorities had tried to trick her into taking a psychiatric test shortly after she was first detained.

Opiyo said they wanted to “de-leigtimise her, characterise her a fool, a mad person and confine her to a mental hospital.

Frank Baine, a spokesman for Uganda’s prison system, said the claim of a mental test was fictitious and fabricated by Nyanzi’s lawyers.

The website of pro-government paper New Vision reported this week on that State Attorney Jonathan Mugwanya had submited to the court that there was evidence that Nyanzi had a history of ‘erratic psychiatric disorder’.

Photo: Uganda university lecturer Stella Nyanzi. Credit: DW

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