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Campaigning Officially Ends In Uganda's Presidential Race


Campaigning for Uganda's elections officially came to a close Tuesday, with all the main presidential candidates holding rallies. Many voters are still angry about Monday's events, when police briefly arrested opposition candidate Kizza Besigye.

Tensions and uncertainty were high, after the arrest Monday of presidential candidate Kizza Besigye.

Although Besigye was held for only a short period of time, his arrest sparked massive protests at Makerere University and in downtown Kampala. Police dispersed the crowds with teargas and live ammunition resulting in multiple injuries and one fatality.

WATCH: Campaigning Officially Ends in Uganda's Presidential Race

The response was widely condemned by the opposition, including presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi, who held his final rally Tuesday outside Kampala. He told reporters the violence Monday was avoidable.

“It is absolutely unnecessary. Why would you hold a presidential candidate, and cause the kind of ruckus there was yesterday? All he was doing was going through the streets to go to his final public rally ... It is absolutely unacceptable and uncalled for, so I condemned it," he said. "And I hope the police and the state will desist from such actions."

Besigye was allowed to campaign on the final day and given a police-sanctioned route away from President Yoweri Museveni's final rally at the city's airstrip.

A group of Kizza Besigye supporters in Kisaasi, a suburb of Kampala, Uganda, Feb. 16, 2016. (Photo: J. Craig / VOA)

A group of Kizza Besigye supporters in Kisaasi, a suburb of Kampala, Uganda, Feb. 16, 2016. (Photo: J. Craig / VOA)

Peaceful protest

Flanked by thousands of supporters, the ride through the city was peaceful, although many still expressed anger about Monday's events.

“Everybody is annoyed, we are very pissed for this and must fight. Come 2016, February 18th, I am very fortunate. I will go upcountry, I will vote and guard my vote until it is announced. We shall win this race, I am very sure. What they have done has gained that more popularity,” said one supporter.

At the Kololo Airstrip, where Museveni had his rally, supporters arrived on buses from different parts of the country. With a main stage packed with performers, many expressed happiness at the way Museveni has run his campaign.

Supporters of President Yoweri Museveni await his arrival at a rally in Kisaasi, a suburb of Kampala, Uganda, Feb. 16, 2016. (Photo: J. Craig / VOA )

Supporters of President Yoweri Museveni await his arrival at a rally in Kisaasi, a suburb of Kampala, Uganda, Feb. 16, 2016. (Photo: J. Craig / VOA )

Many voters say they have seen progress in the past few years and think Museveni has run a fair race. They say that they expect the voting process to go smoothly.

One voter named Frank says he sees Museveni as a paternal figure. “We are welcoming the president now ... Me I support him now, surely. Now at my age, I was born in 1990, and up till now all I am seeing is him and the situation now," said Frank. "So he is more like a dad. That is why I am supporting him. More like a dad.”

Museveni, in power since 1986, is favored to win another term in Thursday's election. This is Besigye's fourth attempt to unseat the president and Mbabazi's first.

A supporter of President Yoweri Museveni at a rally in Kisaasi, a suburb of Kampala, Uganda, Feb. 16, 2016. (Photo: J. Craig / VOA )

A supporter of President Yoweri Museveni at a rally in Kisaasi, a suburb of Kampala, Uganda, Feb. 16, 2016. (Photo: J. Craig / VOA )

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