Uganda’s main opposition party says it’s working hard to gather evidence to legally challenge the outcome of the February 18 general election. Uganda’s electoral law says challenges can be filed up to 10 days after results are announced. Mugisha Muntu, chairman of the Forum for Democratic Change, said the party was doing everything possible to meet the deadline, despite what he said had been continuous harassment and intimidation by state security operatives. Muntu noted that the intimidation followed the frequent arrests and subsequent release of Kizza Besigye, the FDC presidential candidate. “We started gathering evidence on Saturday, right after we found out that there were huge discrepancies between what was being announced and what we’ve been gathering from our own polling stations,” he said. Since then, he added, “our presidential candidate … has been taken to the police cells several times.”
Police arrested Uganda’s main opposition leader, Kizza Besigye, for the fourth time in eight days on Monday, after an election that the United States and European Union have criticised and the opposition reject as fraudulent. Police also stormed Besigye’s Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party headquarters and arrested eight people, one member said, two days after President Yoweri Museveni, 71 and in power for 30 years, was declared the winner of the Feb. 18 vote. The EU observer mission said the vote had been conducted in an “intimidating” atmosphere and United States has voiced concerns about the frequent arrests of Besigye. Police said they detained Besigye as he was preparing to lead supporters to the Electoral Commission headquarters in the capital Kampala to collect the official results, and that he had not obtained government consent. “We have arrested people who are planning to cause violence in Kampala city centre,” police spokesman, Patrick Onyango, said.
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni won a fifth term on Saturday, extending his three-decade rule in a vote rejected as fraudulent by an opposition leader under house arrest and criticised by the international community. The veteran 71-year-old won 60 percent of the vote in the sometimes chaotic elections, far ahead of the 35 percent garnered by detained opposition chief Kizza Besigye, whose house was surrounded by dozens of armed police in riot gear. Large numbers of police and troops have been deployed on the streets of the capital Kampala, which appeared calm immediately after the widely expected victory for Museveni was declared. Besigye slammed the results as a fraud, saying in a message to the international community: “Should you ratify the results of these sham elections, at least have the courage to admit that you do not care about democracy or human rights in Africa.”
The arrest of a top presidential candidate has caused outrage in Uganda just days before the country heads to the polls to elect a new president. Police fired tear gas to disperse crowds of opposition supporters who gathered to demand the release of Kizza Besigye who was briefly detained on Monday. “The arrest followed chaotic scenes as Besigye campaigned in parts of Kampala” ahead of Thursday’s election, the state-run New Vision newspaper reported. The three-time presidential candidate who heads the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party has been repeatedly arrested in past campaigns, and has been described as current president Yoweri Museveni’s “perennial nemesis”. This year seven opposition candidates are vying to contest Museveni’s attempts to win a fifth term in office, but Besigye’s FDC party officials accused the government of blocking their efforts to address supporters in the city centre.