- - Wednesday, March 28, 2012

UGANDA

KAMPALA Uganda’s top opposition leader pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of convening an unlawful assembly in a case stemming from the killing of a policeman in violent street clashes last week.

In tense scenes that threatened to turn violent, heavily armed police blocked Kizza Besigye’s supporters from following him to a magistrate’s court.

Mr. Besigye was charged alongside some of his associates, two of whom were arrested for attempting to walk to court and then ferried on a police truck to the courtroom.

Mr. Besigye and the co-accused pleaded not guilty and were released on bail.

Mr. Besigye and a group of opposition politicians calling themselves activists for change have since last year been staging demonstrations against a government they accuse of mismanaging the economy.

Ugandan police say such political demonstrations disrupt businesses, and they often use tear gas and force to break up the demonstrations.

The so-called “Walk to Work” rallies, which are meant to highlight the rising cost of living in Uganda, have tapped a vein of resentment among urban residents, who see the government as corrupt and out of touch with ordinary people.

MALI

Thousands march to support junta

BAMAKO Several thousand people took to the streets of Mali’s capital in support of the military takeover and a new constitution.

Mali began Wednesday under a new constitution written in haste by the leaders of last week’s military coup and read on state TV Tuesday night.

While the constitution includes many of the guarantees of the former law, including the guarantees of free speech, the new measures include the creation of a military-led council whose president is now Mali’s de facto head of state, Capt. Amadou Sanogo.

The United States, The European Union and France have cut off all but essential aid, and the West African regional bloc has suspended Mali’s membership.

Still, supporters marching through the capital say they want recognition by the regional bloc and for Sanogo to hold on to power.

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