- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 2, 2016

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) - A military general who criticized Uganda’s longtime president was charged in a court-martial and remanded to jail, but his supporters say he is the victim of state persecution.

Gen. David Sejusa was charged Tuesday with being absent without leave, participating in political activities and insubordination.

A lawyer for Sejusa, David Mushabe, described Sejusa as “a prisoner of conscience” who has been targeted for calling President Yoweri Museveni a dictator.

Sejusa’s problems started in 2013, when he wrote a letter to the domestic spy chief urging him to investigate allegations of a plot to kill high-ranking government officials seen as being opposed to the political rise of Museveni’s son, Brig. Muhoozi Kainerugaba.

Kainerugaba is the commander of Uganda’s special forces, a position that puts him in charge of his father’s security. Many Ugandans believe Kainerugaba is being groomed to succeed his father, despite the president’s denial.

Facing likely arrest, Sejusa, who was traveling in Europe when details of his letter leaked, sought asylum in London. He quietly returned home in Dec. 2014.

Sejusa’s supporters say he was arrested ahead of presidential elections this month because the government is worried he will mobilize Ugandans to protest in the event presidential elections are rigged.

“General Sejusa is fully aware that it will be the people of Uganda who will free him from bondage,” Free Uganda, a pro-democracy group, said.

Museveni, who took power by force in 1986 with rebel commanders like Sejusa at his side, is increasingly accused of behaving like a dictator.

In elections on Feb. 18, Museveni faces four-time presidential challenger Kizza Besigye and former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, a former ally who now says Museveni must retire after ruling for three decades.

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