Ugandan opposition leader Besigye re-arrested



Uganda’s main opposition leader is reported to have been arrested for the second time in two days, as the presidential and parliamentary vote continues in some districts after disruptions Thursday.

Police re-arrested Kizza Besigye Friday along with several other top members of his party, the Forum for Democratic Change.

Earlier, police gathered outside the FDC headquarters and fired tear gas into crowds of opposition supporters waiting for Besigye to make a statement. Gunfire also was heard, but the ammunition may have been rubber bullets.

Another presidential candidate, Amama Mbabazi, has released a statement saying police are also arresting people outside his residence. He has posted footage online showing police vehicles patrolling the area.

Provisional results from Uganda’s presidential and parliamentary elections Thursday show incumbent President Yoweri Museveni in the lead, while some districts are voting Friday to make up for problems at voting stations a day earlier.

With just under one-quarter of the votes counted, Museveni, who has held power for the past three decades, was reported as holding more than 60 percent of the votes counted.

But 36 polling stations in the capital, Kampala, and Wakiso district, where support for the opposition is strong, were continuing to vote Friday to make up for Thursday’s delays.

Besigye, who is Museveni’s toughest competition, alleges that the election was subject to vote rigging, rendering it “unfree and unfair,” as he said Thursday.

Provisional results from Uganda’s presidential and parliamentary elections Thursday show incumbent President Yoweri Museveni in the lead, while some districts are voting Friday to make up for problems at voting stations a day earlier.

With just under one-quarter of the votes counted, Museveni, who has held power for the past three decades, was reported as holding more than 60 percent of the votes counted.

But 36 polling stations in the capital, Kampala, and Wakiso district, where support for the opposition is strong, were continuing to vote Friday to make up for Thursday’s delays.

Besigye, who is Museveni’s toughest competition, alleges that the election was subject to vote rigging, rendering it “unfree and unfair,” as he said Thursday.

His statement came after police briefly arrested him Thursday when he tried to enter a house he said was being used for rigging the elections.

VOA’s Swahili Service reported that Besigye was released later Thursday and taken to his home in Kasangati, north of Kampala.

Besigye later told reporters that Uganda’s electoral process is inherently “unfree and unfair.” He said he and his supporters had “corroborated information” the house they visited was being used as the hub for rigging the election.

Police said the house was a security facility and that Besigye was arrested for trespassing.

Social media blackout

U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby spoke out against the arrest Thursday, and said the United States is also concerned about the delays in voting and an apparent block on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram that started Thursday morning.

The U.N. envoy in charge of human rights issues in Uganda, Uchenna Emelonye, said the delays and the social media block had a human rights implication that had been raised with national authorities.

The head of the Uganda’s Communications Commission said the social media sites were blocked for security reasons.

On Thursday, some polling stations did not open on time because election materials had not been delivered.

The delay frustrated many would-be voters, some of whom spent hours waiting in line in the heat of the day for their chance to cast a ballot.

At one station in Kampala, police fired tear gas to disperse angry voters who had waited seven hours in line, only to find there were no ballots for the presidential poll.
As a result, Uganda’s electoral commission extended voting Thursday and allowed it to continue Friday in those districts.

Meanwhile, the vote counting has commenced with results expected as soon as Saturday.

Despite the problems, Ugandans appeared to turn out in large numbers to cast ballots.

President Museveni faced a challenge from seven opponents – most prominently Besigye, who has lost to him in three previous elections.

Besigye accused Museveni and the ruling NRM party of using poll-rigging and intimidation of voters to secure victory in the 2006 and 2011 elections.

Source: VOA

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