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Uganda’s Besigye Challenges 'Illegal' Detention

  • James Butty

Uganda's main opposition leader Kizza Besigye, center, is arrested by police and thrown into the back of a blacked-out police van which whisked him away and was later seen at a rural police station, outside his home in Kasangati, Uganda Monday, Feb. 22, 2016.

Uganda's main opposition leader Kizza Besigye, center, is arrested by police and thrown into the back of a blacked-out police van which whisked him away and was later seen at a rural police station, outside his home in Kasangati, Uganda Monday, Feb. 22, 2016.

Uganda’s main opposition presidential candidate, Dr. Kizza Besigye said he has asked his lawyers to challenge in a court of law what he called his continued “illegal” detention by the police.

Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change party (FDC) said he has been in and out of police detention since last Saturday without being charged.

The opposition leader said he is picked up every morning by police and taken to a police station where he is held until night fall before being brought back to his residence.

“Last night I was dropped back from the police cell of Nagalama which is in the neighboring district, and I found my home still besieged. I was told to get into my home and not allowed to get out; no charge, no explanation, and no documentation,” he said.

“So, I have instructed them to take the matter to the courts of law so that I am produced in court and a charge is either leveled against me or whatever fate is decided by a court, because as I told you since Saturday, I have been detained. No one has told me why I’m under detention. I’ve not be charged with anything, I have not been produced in any court of law,” Besigye said.

Police have been stationed outside Besigye's residence after he vowed to lead a protest march against President Yoweri Museveni's election victory. Officials said they would continue what they called a tactic of "preventative arrest" to not allow Besigye to go ahead with what they characterized as plans to disrupt peace and security in the city.

Ugandan police block the media and others from accessing opposition candidate Kizza Besigye, as he remains under house arrest at his home in Kasangati, outside Kampala, in Uganda, Feb. 20, 2016.

Ugandan police block the media and others from accessing opposition candidate Kizza Besigye, as he remains under house arrest at his home in Kasangati, outside Kampala, in Uganda, Feb. 20, 2016.

Besigye said he and Museveni are still candidates in the 2016 election until the 10 days prescribed in the law elapse without a petition challenging the results being filed in court, an option he did not rule out.

“I have the option of petitioning the Supreme Court to challenge the outcome of the 2016 election. It is the Supreme Court that has the final say of that election, and the Supreme Court has the power to declare me as the winner, depending on the evidence I produce before it, or to cancel that election and order a new election,” Besigye said.

Besigye said under the Uganda constitution, nobody is conclusively elected unless that process of challenging the results has been disposed of or the option has not been taken up.

The 2016 election was the fourth in which Besigye has challenged Museveni. In the three previous elections -- 2001, 2006 and 2011 – he charged they were marred by allegations of ballot rigging, violence and voter intimidation. He went to court and lost.

Besigye said while he does not have confidence in the Ugandan judicial system, it is an option available to him but which he is not being allowed to exercise.

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