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Uganda Opposition Leader Marks 1 Month Under House Arrest

  • 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.

It has been a month since Ugandan police placed opposition leader Kizza Besigye under house arrest following the February 18 presidential election. Besigye has since been arrested about nine times - whenever he tries to leave his house.

The U.S. and European Union have both called for Besigye’s immediate release. But Ugandan police spokesperson Fred Enanga says Besigye is being held lawfully.

“You could be aware of the circumstances that led to the police enforcing the preventive action under Section 24 of the Police Act where under that section we are empower and of course obligated to undertake preventive arraignment where we have reasonable belief that the unrestrictive movement of an individual or a group of persons can basically lead to either injury to the wider public as well as obstruction to traffic flow on the major highways,” he said.

Enanga said the police had reliable intelligence that indicated Besigye, if left alone would cause public disruption.

Besigye has asked the courts to declare the siege of his house illegal and award damages for the inconvenience and mental anguish it has cost him.

“I have instructed them to take the matter 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 told VOA last month.

Enanga said the police will respect whatever decision made by the court regarding Besigye’s fate.

“If at all we are there unlawfully, it is for the court to interpret that based on the facts on the ground. Based on the presentation before the court, we shall await the outcome from the court,” he said.

The police have also restricted visitors to and from Besigye’s house. Only his family is allowed limited access to him. Vehicles are also prevented from entering the compound.

Enanga said the police do not want troublemakers to visit Besigye.

“We have enabled several visitors to his place. Then there actually those ones where we have information that their visit is not healthful to the situation we are trying to bring under control where they actually more of persons with inciteful messages and so on. Sometimes we do allow, sometimes we don’t based on the intelligence we have on the ground, on the intentions and motivations of those who are actually going to visit him,” Enanga said.