Uganda: Mass arrests following disputed presidential poll

AP News
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Posted: Feb 26, 2016 10:01 AM

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Uganda's main opposition party said on Friday that over 200 of its supporters have been detained across the country, hampering efforts to launch a legal challenge against the disputed election of the country's long-time leader.

The Forum for Democratic Change "is in a big crisis" amid the mass arrests of party representatives in different parts of Uganda, said party lawyer Yusuf Nsibambi.

Some of those in detention carried crucial polling materials that could be used as evidence in a possible court case, while others are party supporters who were picked up from the party's regional offices, he said.

"We are overwhelmed," he said, adding that one party representative suffered a fractured arm during beatings while in detention.

Opposition leader Kizza Besigye himself has been under house arrest since last Friday, with the police detaining him several times as he tried to leave his house on the outskirts of Kampala.

President Yoweri Museveni won about 60 percent of the votes last week to Besigye's 35 percent, according to the official tally. Besigye rejected the official count as fraudulent and called for an independent audit.

Museveni denied the allegations of vote fraud and vowed to "use both soft and hard means to guard the peace in Uganda."

A police spokeswoman, Polly Namaye, said Friday there are several ongoing operations against suspected criminals in different parts of Uganda but denied opposition supporters are being targeted.

"What we are doing is to ensure that the communities are safe," she said. "When we are arresting people we don't know whether they belong to this party or that party."

The European Union observer mission said the election was marked by an "intimidating atmosphere, which was mainly created by state actors" and the election commission lacks independence and transparency.