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Uganda Court Rules Besigye’s Confinement Unconstitutional

October 27, 2011

(Updates with comment from magistrate in second paragraph.)

Oct. 27 (Bloomberg) -- The house arrest of Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye was ruled as unconstitutional today because the site isn’t a legally recognized prison, said Magistrate Jessica Chemiri.

The police’s detention of Besigye at his residence is illegal, she said in Kasangati Court, 17 kilometers (10.6 miles) north of Kampala, the capital.

Besigye, who left his house for the first time in more than a week to walk to court today, was forced by police to return home after he attempted to participate in so-called walk-to-work protests on Oct. 18. Officers who surrounded the home left on Oct. 25, he said that day. Besigye wasn’t halted at a police roadblock near the house today, said Asuman Semakula, Besigye’s aide, in an interview.

Police fired tear gas in downtown Kampala on Oct. 17 to break up the demonstrations, held to protest the rising cost of living after inflation in the East African nation surged to an 18-year high of 28.3 percent in September. At least 11 people died and more than 480 were injured during similar protests in April and May, according to the Uganda Red Cross. On Oct. 4, Uganda’s central bank raised its benchmark interest rate by 4 percentage points to curb inflation.

Uganda, East Africa’s third-biggest economy and the continent’s second-largest coffee producer, is scheduled to become an oil producer next year when Tullow Oil Plc begins pumping crude and gas from the Lake Albert Basin.

--Editors: Emily Bowers, Alastair Reed.

To contact the reporter on this story: Fred Ojambo in Kampala at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson at

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