Uganda: Kasaato Alleged Assault; Now UK Lawmaker Steps In

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An alleged November incident involving President Yoweri Museveni’s bodyguards in London is flaring into an embarrassing diplomatic matter for the East African country which plans to host the Commonwealth summit this year.

A Labor Party Member of Parliament has now intervened on behalf of a Ugandan citizen who alleges that President Museveni’s bodyguards assaulted him when he denounced the president as a “war criminal” during his visit to London.

MP Siobhain McDonagh, who represents Mitcham and Morden in Parliament has asked Ugandan officials to explain why they won’t release the names of the bodyguards in question, in a letter she sent Joan K. Rwabyomere, Uganda’s High Commissioner in London; she is the equivalent of an ambassador.

The U.K. MP has also written separately to the Commonwealth and Foreign Office, as well as to a Police Commander about the matter--The Black Star News has obtained copies of the letters. UK Police earlier said they tried three times with no success to obtain names of President Museveni’s bodyguards and that they may call in INTERPOL for assistance.

Dr. Rashid Kasaato, the Ugandan who made the assault charges, says President Museveni’s guards manhandled him during his public appearance November 19 in London, at the National Royal Hotel, where he had come to drum up investments.

The alleged attack occurred after Kasaato said he deplored President Museveni’s human rights records, and called him a “liar” who suppressed political opposition, and a “war criminal” who ignored the civilian toll of the bloody civil war in northern Uganda. The guards grabbed and squeezed his testicles so viciously that he was admitted at St. George’s Hospital and treated for bruises, Kasaato says.

“As a result of unwillingness of your Embassy to disclose the names of Mr. Kaguta’s bodyguards and alleging diplomatic immunity, the complaint to Camden Police Service could not be pursued,” MP McDonagh’s letter to the High Commissioner, dated January 30, reads in part. “I would be very grateful if you could inform me as to what assistance you might be able to provide to the police service in order that this investigation might be pursued,” adds the letter.

In the letter the MP asked for assurances that Kasaato’s relatives in Uganda weren’t being harassed as a result of his remarks to President Museveni and his complaint. Deputy High Commissioner Mumtaz Kassam tells The Black Star she has no knowledge of the MP’s letter to the High Commissioner.

In a separate letter to Lord David Triesman, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the MP noted that Kasaato has objected to Queen Elizabeth II’s scheduled trip to Uganda for the Commonwealth “as a result of the Human Rights abuses of the Government under Mr. Kaguta.”

The letter also described the non-cooperation of Uganda High Commission officials. “I would be very grateful for your comments on the government’s attitude towards the Ugandan Government,” MP McDonagh’s letter concluded.

In yet a third letter, McDonagh asked Police Chief Superintendent Mark Heath, of Tottenham and Camden, which covers the jurisdiction of the alleged attack, “what further action might be taken, if any, in order to protect Mr. Kasaato.”

Dr. Kasaato, who lives in the U.K., is a member of Justice Forum and spokesman for G6, an umbrella alliance for Uganda’s opposition parties.

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