KAMPALA : Authorities confirmed on Saturday that Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye was charged with treason for challenging the result of recent elections and holding his own swearing-in ceremony.

Besigye has disputed President Yoweri Museveni’s victory in February’s election and has been under house arrest for much of the time since.  Judicial spokesman Solomon Muyita said the charges against Besigye stemmed from, “His persistent declaration that he won the elections, his call for an independent audit of election results and his purported swearing in as president.” “He made declarations at different places and times within the country,” Muyita added. On Wednesday Besigye was arrested in the capital Kampala after staging his own swearing-in ceremony and whisked to Moroto and subsequently charged.

He has been remanded in custody until his next court appearance due on 25 May.

Treason is a capital offence in Uganda, but the death penalty has not been carried out for years. Besigye was charged with treason in 2005 though the case against him was eventually dropped.

A long-standing opponent of Museveni, Besigye has been frequently jailed, placed under house arrest, accused of both treason and rape, tear-gassed, beaten and hospitalised over the years.

Museveni, 71, who has been in power for three decades, was declared winner of the February poll with 61 percent of the vote.

He has rejected claims his victory was won through cheating and fraud.