A country's president personally meddling in a court-martial. In Uganda
President [Yoweri] Museveni, while campaigning in Gen [Kale] Kayihura’s home district of Kisoro at the turn of the year, said he would consider the request by some residents in the district to drop the charges against Gen Kayihura.
Lt Gen [Andrew] Gutti, the man before whom Gen Kayihura is supposed to stand trial, now says he doesn’t know how to proceed given the promise by the President – who is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces – and the pressure being mounted by the residents of Kisoro.
For starters, the President should not be interfering with cases that are ongoing in courts of law, whether military or civilian courts.
The proper way should have been for him to notify the people pushing for charges to be dropped that the President doesn’t have such powers under the law. A person charged with an offense – whether in the military or civilian courts – should be tried to conclusion, unless the prosecuting body independently decides to withdraw the charges.
The President is, of course, not a prosecuting authority. The only way the President gets involved in criminal matters of this sort, is in case one is sentenced to death, to sign off the execution order. The other way is to exercise the prerogative of mercy and pardon a convict, but of course this only happens after the trial has been concluded.
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