By Siraje Lubwama, 17 April 2015, The Observer (Uganda)
Wanted by police for treason, Dr Aggrey Kiyingi, an Australia-based heart surgeon, has said he will run for president despite the threats of arrest.
Dr Kiyingi also warned that he would expose what he called President Museveni’s dirty political tricks. In an email to The Observer on April 15, Kiyingi denied receiving any summonses to appear before a Ugandan court to answer treason and murder charges.
He accused the president of fabricating the said charges out of fear of the challenge he poses to Museveni’s political life. Early this year, Kiyingi declared his intention to run for president. The announcement, which surprised Ugandans as Kiyingi was previously not known to be political, came shortly after he had been named in alleged subversive activities.
Commenting on the charges he faces, Kiyingi said: “I am only aware of what at the moment I describe as baseless allegations made in Ugandan newspapers about my alleged criminal role in various killings in Uganda.”
He said he had not been officially contacted by any court of law or the Ugandan government. The cardiologist, who moved to Australia in 1981, said he is not intimidated by “the Ugandan dictator” who has ruled Uganda for 29 years.
Kiyingi compared Museveni to Zaire’s Mobutu Sese Seko and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak both of whom were driven from office, the former after an insurgency and the latter in a popular uprising.
“This is typical of dictator Museveni’s modus operandi; to intimidate opponents with smear campaigns and fabricate criminal charges in order to stop me from standing against him,”Kiyingi said.
“Museveni has played a double game for far too long. I have started and will continue to expose Museveni for what he really is. Rest assured that I know Museveni’s tactics and I am not threatened or intimidated in anyway.”
Kiyingi recalled his clash with the Ugandan authorities ten years ago after he was charged with the murder of his wife Robinah Kiyingi, a former chairperson of Transparency International, Uganda branch. She was fatally shot in July 2005 at their Buziga residence. After a trial lasting one year, Kiyingi was acquitted. He said his acquittal was a major blow to the regime.
Last month, Nakawa Magistrate’s court summoned Kiyingi to appear and answer charges of terrorism and murder. Grade One Magistrate Timothy Lumunye warned that if Kiyingi doesn’t show up, he would issue an arrest warrant. Kiyingi, who holds an Australian passport, is unlikely to appear.
The police have previously threatened to have him extradited from Australia. Five people appeared before the court and were charged, alongside Kiyingi (in absentia), with murder, terrorism, crimes against humanity and attempted murder.
They included Abdullatif Tusiime, Assad Semogerere, Rajab Mubajje, Isa Matanda and Solomon Kibirige. Prosecution claims that the accused belong to a rebel outfit known as Federal Alliance, which is led by Kiyingi. The doctor vehemently denies this claim.
According to prosecution, Kiyingi offered training, recruitment and logistical support to rebels fighting to overthrow the Uganda government. Prosecution further contends that Kiyingi channeled the funds through his remanded relative Aisha Nakasibante. Kiyingi is accused of complicity in the assassination of prominent Muslim clerics Sheikh Abdul Muwaya and Sheikh Mustafa Bahiga.
But Kiyingi said Nakasibante was simply a mobilizer for his Uganda Federal Democratic Organization (UFDO). He said her “only crime” was to distribute cards explaining the purpose of this yet-unregistered political party.
In the email, Kiyingi recalled how retired Colonel Kizza Besigye, the former FDC president (rape and treason), and two opposition MPs, Reagan Okumu and Michael Nyeko Ocula (murder), have all faced trumped-up charges in the past.
“It was alleged that Museveni had ordered these men’s arrest in the hope that they would be kept out of the 2006 general election. The trap failed when they made successful appeals in court and were released in time to contest the elections,” Kiyingi claimed.
He said Museveni is using the same tactics as next year’s election draws near to make life difficult for those poised to challenge his leadership. When contacted for a comment, the president’s press secretary, Tamale Mirundi, said Museveni doesn’t fear any political challenge.
“Even in developed countries, when criminals want to escape criminal charges or paying taxes, they use political tags,” said Tamale.
“If Kiyingi is not a criminal, let him come,” Tamale said, adding, “When he was charged with the murder of his wife, had he expressed interest [in the] presidency?”