KAMPALA (Reuters) - Uganda’s high court sent a jailed academic and critic of veteran President Yoweri Museveni back to prison on Wednesday and cleared the way for a compulsory mental examination, her lawyer told Reuters.
Stella Nyanzi, a university research fellow and lecturer, has been incarcerated more than two weeks since the East African country charged her with electronic communications offences.
The offences stem from posts on her popular Facebook page where she has criticized Museveni and his wife for breaking an election pledge to offer free sanitary pads to schoolgirls.
Museveni’s wife is Uganda’s education minister.
The academic appeared at the high court to seek bail after a lower court refused to hear the case. She also wanted the high court to stop the lower magistrate’s court considering the state’s request to order a mental examination for her.
Eron Kiiza, one of Nyanzi’s lawyers, told Reuters the judge ordered the magistrate’s court to hear her bail application, and sent her back to prison until May 10.
“The high court did also say the... proceedings for her mental examination should continue and be expedited,” Kiiza said.
When she was initially charged, state prosecutors asked the court to order a mental examination.
Nyanzi’s legal team objected to the request and one of her attorneys has said authorities are aiming to have the academic declared “a fool, a mad person” which would qualify her to be confined as a mental patient.
Rights activists and government critics say Museveni, 72, in power for more than three decades, is increasingly intolerant of dissent and also accuse him of widespread rights violations.
Opposition protests in Uganda are routinely broken up with teargas, arrests and beatings.
Nyanzi’s Facebook posts, which often mix government criticism with sexual profanities, have earned her wide support among Ugandan opposition supporters.
According the charge sheet, the state accuses her among others of calling Museveni a “a pair of buttocks” and his wife “empty-brained.”
Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; editing by Duncan Miriri and Ralph Boulton