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Uganda: Anxiety as opposition leader is arrested


Just two days after Uganda’s presidential elections results were announced, runner-up and President Yoweri Museveni’s fiercest challenger, Kizza Besigye has been arrested as he left his home, with supporters saying this is unjustified intimidation.

Beisgye, who got 35 per cent of the vote, had at the weekend claimed the elections, won by the incumbent Yoweri Museveni by about 60 per cent, were rigged.

It is unfortunate that the government is torturing him

Shortly after the announcement of the results, Besigye’s Kasangati home, about 16 kilometres from the capital, Kampala, was besieged by police over fears the opposition leader would mobilise his supporters to riot.

In an interview on Sunday at his home, Besigye told journalists he was planning a visit to the electoral commission headquarters on Monday to gather evidence to take to court to challenge the election results. “I call upon my supporters to come in big numbers to escort me to the electoral commission,” he said.

Philip Ocaya, a police officer stationed outside Besigye home said: “If someone calls his supporters to escort him to a public office, what does that mean? He wants those who want to loot the city to join him and cause chaos.”

The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), the main opposition party has condemned the arrest with its spokesman, Ibrahim Semujju Nganda claiming that “Besigye has been arrested and taken to an unknown place”. Nganda said “It is unfortunate that the government is torturing him”.

It has since been established that Besigye was taken to Nagalama police station, about 20 kilometres from his home, where he has been often held.

FDC eastern Uganda supporters’ chairman, James Wangoda said that the arrest was unjustified because Besigye was simply going to the electoral commission to exercise a constitutional right. “Why arrest Besigye and stop him from going to the electoral commission offices. That is being unfair to Besigye and the opposition,” he said.

Following the elections, activity was slowly picking up in the capital on Monday morning albeit with palpable anxiety among Kampala residents. Some shops remained closed on Monday morning.

“We fear Besigye and members of the opposition will cause chaos like they did after [the last] elections when they held walk to work protests that caused much suffering to people in Kampala and its surroundings,” Musitafah Ngonzi, a shopkeeper, said.

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