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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 March 2007, 10:24 GMT
Uganda judiciary remains defiant
Ugandan lawyers (File picture)
Lawyers see the raid as a violation of the judiciary's independence
Ugandan judges say they will continue their strike over the storming of the High Court until reforms promised by the president are carried out.

In a bid to end the strike, President Yoweri Museveni announced that a transparent mode of arresting suspects released by the court would be set up.

Last week, security agents raided the court to arrest six treason suspects who had been granted bail.

They were all supporters of opposition leader Kizza Besigye.

Two years ago, operations at the court were halted after a siege by a military unit during a case against Mr Besigye, who is also charged with treason.

On Monday - the first day of the strike - police dispersed followers of Mr Besigye's Forum for Democratic Change protesting about the last week's High Court fracas.

'Unwarranted concern'

"I have had consultations with the chief justice and agreed on what to do to avoid re-occurrence of such incidents," Mr Museveni said.

"A legal and transparent modus operandi for re-arresting suspects will be formulated by agents involved in the administration of justice."

But despite these assurances Justice James Ogoola, one of Uganda's most senior judges, said the judges and lawyers would continue with their strike as they await a comprehensive statement from the cabinet.

"It is very unfortunate that the public has to suffer but the point had to be made, they will not survive unless the rule of law, independence of the judiciary and all other fundamental principles that hold the nation together are back to form," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

The International Commission of Jurists has condemned last week's incident and urged the government to respect the independence and freedom of the judiciary.

The suspects arrested last week are alleged members of the Peoples Redemption Army (PRA) accused of plotting a coup.

The government has often linked Dr Besigye's name to the PRA, a rebel group that was allegedly based in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Dr Besigye who was charged with treason and rape in the runner up to the presidential elections last year has denied any link to the group.

He lost the election and still faces charges of treason in the High Court but was cleared of the rape charge last year.


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