Museveni’s critic Stella Nyanzi flees to Kenya over ‘looming persecution’

Stella Nyanzi
Dr Stella Nyanzi (far left). [Photo: African Arguments]

Ugandan scholar and activist Dr Stella Nyanzi has fled to Kenya fearing persecution by Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

According to her lawyer, Prof George Wajackoyah, reports Daily Nation, Dr Nyanzi is aware of a plot by Museveni’s government to persecute her politically.

Dr Nyanzi has been a victim of Museveni’s iron fist.

In 2019, a Ugandan court sentenced her to 18 months in jail for allegedly harassing Museveni.

Before her sentencing, she had been remanded for nine months over a poem she posted on her social media handle which was deemed disrespectful and tantamount to harassment.

Although she did not attend the ceremony as he was in prison, she managed to smuggle her speech to organizers of the event.

She accused Museveni of subverting justice and using power to silence critics.

“Unlawful laws are used in unjust courts to punish citizens whose only crime is exercising their constitutional freedom to write boldly about the dictatorship,” part of her speech read.

She went on: “My custodial sentence in a maximum security prison highlights how fearful this dictator and his cronies are of writers. Isn’t the pen, indeed, mightier than the sword?”

In 2015, Dr Nyanzi who is a lecturer and researcher hurled unprintable names at Museveni which earned her 33 days in prison.

She served her last prison term at Luzira women’s prison in Kampala.

Just before her release, she was feted with Oxfam Novib/PEN International award for her voice in criticizing Museveni’s 35-year rule.

This comes amid rising political temperatures in Uganda following the January 14 elections where 76-year-old Museveni was declared the winner.

However, his top competitor Robert Kyaglulanyi alias Bobi Wine has protested and filed a petition in court challenging Museveni’s victory.

Wine, 36, filed the petition with the Ugandan Supreme Court on Monday.

One of his lawyers Medard Sseggona told journalists as quoted by African Press that “any election Museveni participates in can never be a peaceful election, can never be a free and fair election”.

Sseggona added: “We want nullification of the election. We do not want (Museveni) participating in any future election.”