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Ugandan Candidates Make Final Appeals to Voters Before Election

  • Jill Craig

Candidates in Uganda are holding final rallies Tuesday ahead of the country's presidential and legislative elections.

Voters will decide on Thursday whether to give President Yoweri Museveni a fifth term or elect an opposition candidate and have a new leader for the first time since 1986.

Museveni took power in a coup and won landslide elections in 2006 and 2011 that observers said were marred by irregularities and intimidation of opposition parties.

NRM supporters prepare for the day's rallies. (J. Craig/VOA)

NRM supporters prepare for the day's rallies. (J. Craig/VOA)

On Monday, Ugandan police detained opposition candidate Kizza Besigye as he campaigned in the country's capital.

Witnesses said police fired tear gas at a Besigye event and took him into custody. He was then taken to another location outside of Kampala before being freed.

Uganda’s assistant inspector general of police accused Besigye of violating campaign rules.

“If you choose because it is political period, to campaign, to go to a place where you are not supposed to be at that time, and then lead a procession through the central business district, the nerve center of economic activity, at such a time, I think we must protect other people,” he said.

Leading opposition leader and presidential candidate Kizza Besigye, center, is arrested by riot police after attempting to walk with his supporters along a street in downtown Kampala, Uganda Monday, Feb. 15, 2016.

Leading opposition leader and presidential candidate Kizza Besigye, center, is arrested by riot police after attempting to walk with his supporters along a street in downtown Kampala, Uganda Monday, Feb. 15, 2016.

One of Besigye’s lawyers Lukwago Shifrah said she was in a car with the opposition candidate when they were stopped by police and tear gassed.

“Yeah, we were together and actually we finished the first rally which was carried out there, and then we left to go to the convoy and then we had another rally but we were blocked, and they had to tear gas us, which wasn’t called for because he’s a candidate like any other people," Shifrah said.

Charles Opakrwoth says he had been a long-time supporter of NRM, President Museveni’s party, until recently, when he switched Besigye’s FDC party. He says he was at the junction when the police took Besigye.

“Me, as a Ugandan, and I know human rights law, what they have done today, is not fair. Even if they do to other person, even if to do to another person, it’s still not good,” he said.

After Besigye was released, his supporters and police faced off in Kampala, as supporters waited for him to make an appearance at Makerere University. Some supporters threw stones and police fired tear gas canisters to disperse the crowds.

Supporters of opposition candidate Kizza Besigye rally before elections in Uganda. (J. Craig/VOA)

Supporters of opposition candidate Kizza Besigye rally before elections in Uganda. (J. Craig/VOA)

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