Injured Ugandan lawmaker prevented from traveling abroad

An injured Ugandan opposition lawmaker who allegedly was tortured while in detention was blocked from traveling abroad for treatment on Thursday because he had no clearance from police, his lawyer said.

Francis Zaake, who has been hospitalised with undisclosed injuries, failed to board a plane to India on Thursday, Asuman Basalirwa told The Associated Press.

"Airport security says he has cases to answer," Basalirwa said.

Government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo said on Twitter that Zaake, who has not been charged with any crime, escaped police custody "and should be arrested at the earliest. He could be trying to escape from justice."

Zaake was arrested earlier this month alongside pop star-turned-lawmaker Bobi Wine and others over their alleged roles in an incident in which President Yoweri Museveni's motorcade was pelted with stones.

Bobi Wine, whose name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, and his co-accused were later charged with treason, raising concerns about a crackdown on the political opposition in this east African nation.

Ssentamu since assuming a parliament seat last year has become popular among Uganda's youth who are frustrated by high unemployment and by a president in his 70s who critics fear intends to rule for life.

The arrests sparked protests in the capital, Kampala, and drew outrage from dozens of global musicians who demanded Ssentamu's release.

Ssentamu, who has alleged severe torture while in detention, and his co-accused were released on Monday on bail. The singer's family also hopes to take him abroad for specialised care.

Museveni earlier this month said in a statement that Zaake was wanted by the police. That brought anger from some Ugandans who, citing the lawmaker's condition, insisted that Zaake could not have checked himself into a health facility.

Zaake's supporters have said he was dumped at a Kampala hospital by men in military dress.

Museveni, who is 74, has held power since 1986. Parliament in a contentious vote last year approved a change to the constitution that removed an age limit on the presidency. Ssentamu was among those leading protests against it.

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