Opposition MPs Muhammad Ssegirinya and Allan Ssewanyana have held a media briefing to clarify the circumstances under which they were released from prison, and they want to share some good news with the public. Ssegirinya, the MP for Makindye West, and Ssewanyana both denied rumors that there was a gentleman’s agreement between the government and the opposition regarding their release. They were pleased to announce that their freedom was secured thanks to the tireless efforts of their party and lawyers, as well as the constant pressure from the people, the media, and the international community.
“We heard that there were negotiations for our release. It was the first time I heard about that. I have the freedom to be free in my country. The people who were talking about the negotiations had selfish interests. Why would we negotiate?” queried Ssegirinya. Ssewanyana also wondered why they would pay Shs 20 million for bail and why their passports were withheld if there were negotiations.
The MPs were accused of being behind the wave of machete killings of at least 26 people in greater Masaka in mid-2021 and had been in prison since September 2021. Their release on bail was their third attempt, with previous attempts being frustrated as they left Kigo prison. However, they were finally released on February 13, 2023, after spending 524 days in jail, an equivalent of 17 months.
The MPs, who subscribe to the National Unity Platform (NUP), the Opposition majority party in Parliament, expressed their gratitude to the party, their lawyers, and everyone who helped secure their temporary freedom. They also praised the power of the people, the media, and the international community in pressuring for their release.
The rumors of a gentleman’s agreement between the government and the opposition reportedly started almost immediately after their arrest and remand to prison. However, NUP Leader Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine has since denied these rumors, saying that if any negotiation happened, it took place without his consent.
Despite the allegations, Ssegirinya and Ssewanyana are happy to be free and continue serving their constituencies. They hope that their release can serve as an inspiration to others facing unjust imprisonment and persecution.