Uganda arrests opposition leader over disputed election
Uganda’s opposition leader Kizza Besigye has been arrested for the fourth time in eight days following a contested presidential election which saw the long-serving president, Yoweri Museveni, re-elected to office.
On Monday, police said they believed the opposition leader was preparing to lead his followers to the electoral commission to collect the official results without obtaining proper consent.
“Today, [Besigye] had mobilized a group of youth to storm the electoral commission. We had information that they had planned to cause violence in the city,” said police spokesman Patrick Onyango.
However, a senior official with Besigye’s FDC party urged the release of their leader, saying he was being banned from gathering evidence as part of his challenge of the election result.
“They should leave him to be free because he has only 14 days to petition the court. He has to collect evidence,” Ingrid Turinawe said.
Besigye and other domestic critics had dismissed the election as rigged, an accusation strongly denied by Museveni.
Uganda’s electoral commission announced on Saturday that Museveni secured 60.8 percent of the votes, while his main rival and opposition candidate Kizza Besigye garnered 35.4 percent.
European Union observers also criticized the February 18 elections, saying the East African nation’s electoral commission is not independent and that the vote was conducted in an intimidating atmosphere.
Ugandan elections in 2006 and 2011 were marred by violence over the results, sparking widespread protests in the country, particularly in the capital, Kampala.
Museveni, who came to power in 1986 after waging a five-year guerrilla war, is hailed by many Ugandans for what they say is providing decades of relative peace and economic stability.