Uganda detains former PM, opposition leaders

Ugandan police on Thursday arrested two top opposition leaders and presidential candidates hoping to challenge veteran President Yoweri Museveni in elections next year, reports said.

Uganda detains former PM, opposition leaders

World Bulletin / News Desk 

Former Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi was arrested on Thursday morning while en route to Eastern Uganda’s Mbale district.

Mbabazi’s lawyer, Severino Twinobusingye, told Anadolu Agency: “It is true. He has been arrested in a very unacceptable manner, which we condemn; we are now looking for him.”

“He was stopped along the way [to Mbale] and put in a police truck [and taken] to a yet-unknown destination. Our worry now is that he may be harmed,” said Twinobusingye.

Mbabazi, who left his home Thursday morning to take part in a consultative meeting, found a heavy security presence outside his home and along the road to Mbale. He was eventually arrested in Njeru on the bridge on the Jinja highway.

“I gave him two options: go back to Kampala, or I arrest him,” Andrew Felix Kaweesi, police head of operations, told journalists at the scene. “He opted for the second, so I arrested him.”

He added: “Mbabazi is under preventive arrest because his actions are illegal.”

On Tuesday, the former PM’s lawyers held a day-long meeting with Deputy Police Inspector-General Okoth Ochola in which they reportedly disagreed over how Mbabazi should have carried out his consultations.

- Presidential ambitions

On Wednesday evening, Mbabazi had met with President Yoweri Museveni, who he had intended to challenge for the leadership of Uganda’s ruling party and – later – for the presidency.

“The president asked Mbabazi to halt his actions until he [Museveni] had consulted with the ruling National Resistance Movement Party’s central executive committee,” Twinobusingye said.

According to the lawyer, Mbabazi had told the president that there was no article in the party’s constitution “that mandates him to seek advice from the party to allow him [Mbabazi] to consult.”

“He told the president that, whatever the circumstances, he would go ahead with his consultations,” said Twinobusingye.

The lawyer added: “We now understand that some quarters of the police got orders from the president to arrest him if he went on with his actions.”

According to the lawyer’s account, Mbabazi – who has been a close confidante of Museveni’s and a leading member of the ruling party for almost 40 years – appeared to have rubbed the president the wrong way after expressing an interest in contesting the presidency.

Last September, Museveni ejected Mbabazi from the cabinet and the former PM subsequently lost his position of party secretary-general.

In a similar development, three-time presidential contender Kiiza Besigye was also recently arrested and taken to a prison after setting out from his home in Kampala – also to take part in party consultations.

Notably, Besigye had been nominated earlier this week as the presidential candidate for the Forum for Democratic Change, Uganda’s largest opposition party.

- Media warned

Nor have media personnel been spared as tension mounts in the run-up to Uganda’s 2016 general elections.

This morning, journalists driving to Mbale were stopped by traffic police and warned against continuing with the journey.

In a Wednesday statement, Uganda’s official communications commission warned all media personnel to adhere to the country’s Communications Act.

The law demands that journalists follow a professional code of conduct “while [covering] presidential, parliamentary and local council elections.”

One local television station that had been covering the recent arrest of opposition leaders has since gone off air – a development that one communications commission official attributed to “a technical glitch.”


Güncelleme Tarihi: 09 Temmuz 2015, 14:01