A presidential candidate, and leader of Uganda’s opposition party the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), was arrested Monday, just days before Uganda is due to hold presidential elections on Thursday, a local newspaper reported.
Dr Kizza Besigye was arrested as he tried to access the Kampala Central Business District, reported Uganda’s Daily Monitor newspaper.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, 71, who is running for a fifth term in office and has been in power for 30 years, declared all public places in Kampala Central a no-go area for the opposition.
FDC spokesperson Semujju Nganda said Besigye had been arrested as he was about to attend scheduled rallies in Kampala’s business district.
“We wanted to have a rally at Nakivubo Stadium but police blocked us. This has left us with no choice but to address voters on the streets and roads,” said Nganda.
According to Uganda’s Electoral Commission campaign schedule, Besigye had planned rallies in parts of Central Kampala, including Nakivubo Stadium.
Before his arrest, officers, led by Kampala Central Police Station district police commander Aaron Baguma, had blocked the opposition leader from using Kampala Road, suggesting that he use Mukwano Road to access the city, reported the Daily Monitor.
Besigye apparently rejected the suggestion and tried to get to the city centre using another road before he was again blocked by police and his followers tear gassed, the newspaper reported.
The FDC leader’s arrest came just a day after police chief, General Kale Kayihura, warned him against addressing campaign rallies at night, while defending the National Resistance Movement’s (NRM) leader, and incumbent president, Yoweri Museveni’s right to do the same.
The African News Agency (ANA) was unable to confirm Monday morning whether Besigye has been released from police custody despite numerous calls to the Ugandan Embassy in Pretoria.
However, police told the BBC that Besigye “was not under arrest but was being held because he disobeyed orders not to disrupt city traffic”.
The BBC later reported Monday afternoon that Besigye had been released.
– African News Agency (ANA)