Uganda’s Court rejects to block opposition leader from elections

A court cleared the way for Uganda's main opposition leader to run in next week's presidential election by rejecting claims Friday that his nomination was illegal. Kizza Besigye is the first credible challenger to President Yoweri Museveni's 20-year rule.

The attorney general and two civilians had asked that he be struck from the ballot, arguing that his nomination in November was illegal because he had been detained at the time and was unable to file his nomination papers in person. They also argued that election officials' acceptance of the nomination against the advice of the attorney general was unconstitutional.

The Constitutional Court disagreed, saying the Electoral Commission was not required to follow attorney general recommendations. Judges ordered the petitioners to pay all costs of the court proceedings.

Besigye,  who placed second in a 2001 presidential vote marred by violence and fraud allegations,  was detained in November, shortly after returning from self-imposed exile to campaign for the Feb. 23 election.

Authorities charged him with treason, rape and illegal possession of firearms. He was released Jan. 2 on bail pending trial in a civilian court.

Besigye has denied all the charges, saying they were politically motivated and aimed at undermining his bid for the presidency, reports the AP.

I.L.

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