Arrests of opponents mar Uganda poll preparations


Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni attends his swearing-in ceremony at the Independance grounds in Uganda's capital Kampala, May 12, 2016. REUTERS/Edward Echwalu - RTX2E18C

from HASSAN ONYANGO in Kampala, Uganda
KAMPALA, (CAJ News) REPEATED arrests and detentions of President Yoweri Museveni’s opponents and serious human rights violations against opposition supporters have cast doubt over Uganda holding credible elections on Thursday.

Museveni (76), in power for almost 35 years, will contest for a sixth term in office.

He has come under criticism after his main challenger, Robert Kyagulanyi (38), who is a musician-cum-legislator better known as Bobi Wine, and another opposition candidate Patrick Amuriat (57), were repeatedly arrested by security forces over allegedly trumped-up charges.

Scores of their supporters have allegedly been tortured and killed.

On December 30, Wine’s entire entourage-security detail, media team and medical team were arrested.

Some appeared in court amid bad health on Monday and there are allegations they were in police custody.

A group of local and overseas-based activists, musicians and journalists and entrepreneurs under the banner of the Friends of the Republic of Uganda this week called upon the African Union (AU) and the international community denouncing the ongoing assault on Uganda’s opposition.

They want the AU and other countries to ensure elections in the East African country are free and fair.

More than 50 non-governmental organisations also petitioned Museveni calling on him to ensure open and unrestricted internet access during and after the presidential election.

At the 2016 poll, authorities disrupted access to social media networks at least twice, during voting in February and ahead of Museveni’s inauguration in May.

Museveni won 60,62 percent of the vote, ahead of Kizza Besigye (35,61 percent).

Vote rigging, fraud, repeated arrest of opposition politicians marred the exercise.

A total of 11 candidates have registered for the presidential poll.

– CAJ News

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