Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday backed concerns of international observers about shortcomings and irregularities in Uganda’s elections and urged all parties to settle any disputes peacefully. Neutral observers have criticized the government for using security forces against opposition candidates and supporters, and tensions rose Monday when police arrested President Yoweri Museveni’s main challenger, Kizza Besigye. The electoral commission announced Saturday that Museveni won the vote with more than 60 percent of counted ballots, while Besigye got 35 percent. Museveni needed 50 percent plus one vote to avoid a runoff election. The 71-year-old Museveni, a key U.S. ally on security matters, seized power in 1986 and has led Uganda for 30 years.
The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern Tuesday at reports of at least two people killed, heavy military and police forces deployed in the streets of the capital, Kampala, and the arrests of four opposition leaders since Thursday’s elections.
The office noted that Besigye, who was arrested and released on three occasions last week, was placed under house arrest on Saturday without charge or judicial order and taken to a police station 30 kilometers from Kampala on Monday after he tried to leave his home.
Human rights spokeswoman Cecile Pouilly expressed concern at “the intimidating display of force used on Friday by Ugandan police and military forces” to evacuate the offices of Besigye’s party in Kampala, reportedly including tear gas and live ammunition.