Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s security forces used strong-arm tactics in the middle of an election Friday, arresting the main opposition candidate, beating protesters and firing tear gas and stun grenades at them in the capital. The United States, which gives financial support to Uganda and helps train its military, was among those condemning the brutal actions. It occurred as voting from Thursday’s election continued in two main districts Friday because ballots and other election materials had not arrived on election day. Early returns Friday put Museveni ahead of opposition leader Kizza Besigye, but votes remained to be cast and counted in Besigye strongholds in this East African nation. With results from about 47 percent of polling stations across the country counted, Museveni had about 63 percent of the vote and Besigye had about 33 percent, the election commission said late Friday. Final results are expected on Saturday.
Police surrounded the headquarters of Besigye’s Forum for Democratic Change party as he was meeting with party members, and a helicopter fired tear gas at a crowd outside. Then police moved in and took Besigye, a 59-year-old doctor, to an unknown location, according to Semujju Nganda, a spokesman for the FDC.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke over the phone Friday with Museveni “to underscore that Uganda’s progress depends on adherence to democratic principles in the ongoing election process,” the U.S. State Department said.
Kerry “expressed his concern about the detentions of … Besigye and harassment of opposition party members during voting and tallying and urged President Museveni to rein in the police and security forces.”