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Uganda Opposition Announces Alternative Presidential Inauguration

  • James Butty

FILE - Opposition leader Kizza Besigye speaks during a news conference at his home at the outskirts of Kampala, Uganda, Feb. 21, 2016.

FILE - Opposition leader Kizza Besigye speaks during a news conference at his home at the outskirts of Kampala, Uganda, Feb. 21, 2016.

The disputed presidential election on February 18th in Uganda has led the main opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) to announce it will hold an alternative inauguration of opposition candidate Kizza Besigye on Thursday, the same day that President Yoweri Museveni, in office since 1986, will be sworn in for another term.

The electoral commission in Uganda says that President Museveni won the election with 61 percent of the vote but Besigye, the FDC candidate, insists he won the election with 52 percent of the vote. Besigye has been on a campaign of defiance aimed at invalidating what he calls President Museveni's "illegal presidency."

The Ugandan government has banned the local media from covering "live activities" of the FDC party.

Besigye's wife: ‘Military atmosphere’ in Kampala

Besigye's wife, Winnie Byanyima, called VOA from Kigali, Rwanda, where she's attending the World Economic Forum to say that Uganda's capital, Kampala, has been militarized. She says security forces have been deployed at the homes of leading opposition officials, including at Besigye's home.

"The situation has continued to be very tense as more of the opposition leaders have been picked up and detained in places that are not known. Others, their homes have been surrounded; they cannot go out or receive people. At our home, it is very, very surrounded and access into and out is very limited," she said.

Byanyima said tensions remain very high in Kampala as she said there are soldiers everywhere.

Police say heavy security necessary

Uganda Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura has said that heavy security is necessary because President Museveni will be sworn in Thursday, and Uganda is expecting "quite a number of heads of state and other dignitaries" to attend the inauguration. "On such an event, all the national security agencies come together as a joint team to ensure that the event is properly secure against all threats," he said.

He said police have arrested opposition activists who they say were planning to disrupt the Museveni inauguration.

Kayihura defended a police raid on the FDC offices in Kampala, saying police had information the opposition had been printing propaganda materials.

Opposition transitional government to be sworn in

Byanyima said she read on the FDC website that is has announced what it calls a "transitional government" of national unity, led by Kizza Besigye, that will be sworn in on Thursday at the same time that President Museveni will be sworn in.

"It says that the transitional government intends to rescue Uganda from a regime that stole the election," she said.

Byanyima also accused Ugandan police of spreading lies that Besigye has broken Uganda law by his campaign of defiance.

"My husband has not broken any law, and if he had, by now they would have charged him and tried him. He's been under this illegal detention since before the election. They have enough time to prosecute him if he was doing anything that is against the law," she said.

Police leader denies police act politically

Kayihura says, "The police do not act on the basis of politics, let along partisan politics. Police (in Uganda) operate on the basis if there is an indication that somebody is about to commit an offense or has committed an offense obviously the police will be interested. That's why police are there anywhere in the world, in the United States."

Meanwhile the head of a European Union delegation to Uganda, Kristian Schmidt, has told the Uganda government to stop the hostile reaction to calls for change.

Schmidt said unless the ruling National Resistance Movement changes its approaches, it might jeopardize the progress made on health indicators and literacy rates.

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