Ugandan Opposition Leader Besigye Detained, Then Released By Police
Ugandan police detained opposition candidate Kizza Besigye in the capital Kampala Monday as he campaigned for the country’s presidential election this week.
Witnesses said police fired tear gas at a Besigye event and took him into custody. He was then taken to another location outside of Kampala before being freed.
Besigye has lost three disputed elections to President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power since 1986.
Uganda’s assistant inspector general of police accused Besigye of violating campaign rules.
“If you choose because it is political period, to campaign, to go to a place where you are not supposed to be at that time, and then lead a procession through the central business district, the nerve center of economic activity, at such a time, I think we must protect other people,” he said.
One of Besigye’s lawyers, Lukwago Shifrah, said she was in a car with the opposition candidate when they were stopped by police and tear-gassed.
“We were together and actually we finished the first rally which was carried out there, and then we left to go to the convoy and then we had another rally but we were blocked, and they had to tear-gas us, which wasn’t called for because he’s a candidate like any other people,” Shifrah said.
Voter Charles Opakrwoth said he had been a long-time supporter of NRM, President Museveni’s party, until recently, when he switched Besigye’s FDC party. He says he was at the junction when the police took Besigye.
“Me, as a Ugandan, and I know human rights law, what they have done today, is not fair. Even if they do to other person, even if to do to another person, it’s still not good,” he said.
After Besigye was released, his supporters and police faced off in Kampala, as supporters waited for him to make an appearance at Makerere University. Some supporters threw stones and police fired tear gas canisters to disperse the crowds.
Ugandans go to the polls Thursday to vote for president, parliamentary seats and local government seats.
Museveni has been in power since a 1986 coup and won landslide victories in 2006 and 2011 in elections that observers said were marred by irregularities and intimidation of opposition parties.