Ugandan author Kakwenza vows to return from exile

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Ugandan author Kakwenza

By Kwanta Douglas –

Award-winning Ugandan author and fierce government critic who fled the country after being “tortured” in custody told AFP on Thursday he planned to return home despite his ordeal.

Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, 33, slipped out of Uganda on Wednesday to seek treatment abroad for his injuries, ahead of a criminal trial in a case that has triggered international concern. 

The satirical novelist is facing charges over a series of unflattering social media posts about veteran President Yoweri Museveni and his powerful son Muhoozi Kainerugaba. 

Rukirabashaija said he was tortured during his nearly month-long detention, and has posted pictures showing large welts criss-crossing his back and scars on other parts of his body. 

“No-one knew I was leaving. I travelled alone and was not helped by anyone, even my lawyer was surprised,” he said in a phone interview from a secret location.

He said his decision to flee was “difficult” because he left his family behind but that it was “a relief” to be out of Uganda. 

He felt it was the only option after a court refused to return his passport to allow him to legally travel abroad for medical treatment.

“I’ve been diagnosed with damaged kidneys, bruised ribs and post-traumatic stress disorder,” he said.

He has described being beaten with batons, forced to dance for hours at time, attacked with pliers used to tear at his flesh and injected repeatedly with an unknown substance.

“I don’t know whether I was poisoned. I’m not feeling fine.”

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