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Uganda parliament piglet protest pair freed on bail

05 July 2014, 14:28

Kampala -A Ugandan court on Friday released two protesters who sneaked two piglets into parliament painted in the ruling party's colours, their lawyer told AFP.

"I am happy my clients are out of prison," lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde said, confirming his clients Robert Mayanja and Norman Tumuhimbise had been released on bail.

Last month the two men managed to sneak into the tightly guarded parliament where they let loose two piglets, in protest at what they said was corruption and extravagant spending by lawmakers.

The men, both unemployed, are members of a protest movement calling themselves the "jobless brotherhood group".

Officials said the protestors had painted the animals in the colours of the ruling party of President Yoweri Museveni, one of Africa's longest serving leaders, and had written insulting slogans against MPs on the animals, including the word "MPigs".

Mayanja and Tumuhimbise are facing three charges including interrupting parliamentary activities, criminal trespass and conspiracy to sneak piglets into parliament, charges they deny.

The men were released on a non-cash bail equivalent to $780 (570 euros), and told to return to court on August 4.

Police continue to hold the piglets, which were first tested for "terrorism related material".

Uganda has been the subject of frequent criticism from foreign donors over allegations of rampant corruption, although protests in the country by Ugandans are rare.

Earlier this year, MPs caused a storm after it emerged they had demanded a massive raise in their salaries, already 60 times higher than most state employees, and that the country's chief auditor had complained deputies had failed to account for millions of dollars of expenses.

Seven police officers who were on duty outside parliament have also been suspended over the embarrassing security breach.

Uganda, which has troops in Somalia as part of the African Union force fighting Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents, is currently on high alert amid fears of attacks by the militants.

- AFP

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