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Ugandan Opposition Holds Alternate Inauguration


FILE - Uganda's main opposition leader Kizza Besigye, center, is arrested in Kasangati, Uganda, Feb. 22, 2016. Besigye defied house arrest Wednesday and showed up in Kampala. He was later arrested.

FILE - Uganda's main opposition leader Kizza Besigye, center, is arrested in Kasangati, Uganda, Feb. 22, 2016. Besigye defied house arrest Wednesday and showed up in Kampala. He was later arrested.

One day before the swearing-in of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, his main rival, Kizza Besigye, appears to have held his own ceremony.

Besigye showed up Wednesday afternoon in downtown Kampala despite being under house arrest. The visit brought patrons out of shops to watch, and many of his supporters flocked to his car as he drove by, occasionally stopping to address the crowd.

Besigye was arrested shortly after his appearance and crowds were dispersed using tear gas. Some videos, which have appeared on Twitter, show the crowd being beaten with sticks by plain-clothed men.

The opposition FDC party later announced that it had held its own swearing-in ceremony for what it called "the people's president," releasing pictures of the event. Besigye insists the government rigged the March presidential election in favor of Museveni and that he, Besigye, was the true winner.

Many Ugandans reacted with amusement; however, within hours, the government began shutting down social media.

Roadblocks have been set up and police are out in force throughout Kampala ahead of Museveni's inauguration Thursday. Sixteen heads of state — including Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, Kenya's Uhuru Kenyatta and Tanzania's John Magufuli — are expected to attend.

Officials say that access to social media will be restored shortly after the inauguration and that the roadblocks are needed for security.

Several members of the opposition have vowed to protest Thursday’s event; however, with opposition FDC members announcing Besigye's unofficial swearing-in earlier Wednesday — and with Besigye's subsequent arrest — it is difficult to say if protests will take place Thursday as scheduled.

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