Uganda charges, jails academic for insulting the president

Jerome Frank
April 13, 2017

On Facebook Nyanzi has repeatedly rebuked First Lady Janet Museveni, who also serves as education minister, for saying the government has no money to buy sanitary napkins for poor schoolgirls, although the president had promised to budget for them while he campaigned for re-election previous year.

Stella Nyanzi criticised Janet Museveni on Facebook after the government reneged on a campaign pledge to supply free sanitary pads to schoolgirls.

Stella Nyanzi, a research fellow at Uganda's Makerere University, was charged with cyber harassment and offensive communication Monday.

She pleaded not guilty to both counts and said President Yoweri Museveni is a "dishonourable" man who has "offended the people of Uganda".

If further alleged that Nyanzi willfully and repeatedly using electronic communication posted offensive messages via Facebook with an intention of disturbing peace and the privacy of President Yoweri Museveni.

Nyanzi is popular on Facebook for her relentless criticism of Museveni, who has ruled since 1986 and who is increasingly accused of planning to rule this East African country for life.

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The project was seen as a way to incentivize the education of girls, as studies have documented numerous cases of girls in Uganda who drop out of school due to shame if they can not afford sanitary pads during their menstruation cycle.

Yet in a period of just a few days after Dr. Nyanzi's arrest in Kampala by the Ugandan regime, glaring portraits of Nyanzi, wearing the distinctive Che Guevara style liberation struggle hat, went viral on the social media networks, with many Ugandans choosing to replace their Facebook account photo IDs with that of Dr. Nyanzi. However, she adds, there have been at least three cases of conviction involving people "who have attacked journalists". I reject her forgiveness.,' Stella Nyanzi wrote.

This forced the often interview-shy Mrs Museveni to post an interview via her Twitter handle to deny the allegations.

"He makes promises of sanitary pads to girls". Uganda's police nonetheless arrested her on Friday (Apr.9).

Dr Nyanzi, who was arrested on 7th April and detained at Kira Divisional Police headquarters, was on Monday morning driven to Buganda Road Magistrate's court where she was charged.

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.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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