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Ugandan Security Forces Deployed Ahead of Museveni Inauguration

FILE - Security service members wait for the arrival of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on his way back from his country home, in Kampala, Uganda, Jan. 21, 2021.
FILE - Security service members wait for the arrival of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on his way back from his country home, in Kampala, Uganda, Jan. 21, 2021.

Ugandan security operations have ramped up around the capital ahead of Wednesday's inauguration of President Yoweri Museveni. That includes tight security around the home of opposition leader Bobi Wine, who accused the government of fraud in January’s election. The security measures seem to be a warning to the opposition from authorities.

It’s a beehive of activity for security personnel ahead of Wednesday’s swearing-in ceremony for Museveni. Kampala streets are guarded by foot patrols of soldiers, rooftop snipers, artillery pieces, armored vehicles and riot police.

Authorities are also intent on containing opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi, better known as Bobi Wine.

Joel Ssenyonyi, the National Unity Platform party spokesperson, says Wine’s house has been heavily surrounded by security.

“In fact, today they deployed some more [security forces]. We don’t know whether their intention is to hold him under house arrest. Honorable Kyagulanyi has not written to them to ask for security. Today, at our party headquarters in Kamwokya, the military sent war tankers (tanks). But for us, all this is panic. Panic by Mr. Museveni and his regime, because they are afraid of Ugandans. Simply because they know they stole the victory of Ugandans,” Ssenyonyi said.

Colonel Deo Akiiki, the deputy army spokesperson, says stepped up security at Wine’s home is because of his status in the country.

Police spokesperson Fred Enanga says officials have intelligence that Wine was planning a parallel inauguration ceremony.

“We are already aware of plans by one of the former presidential candidates, who lost the recent presidential election, and is having plans of holding a parallel and illegitimate swearing-in ceremony, in one of the hotels in Iganga. We want to remind him and his supporters that the voice of the electorate were clearly heard,” Enanga said.

Museveni and his National Resistance Movement party were declared the winner of the January 14 elections with 58.6% of the vote. Wine and his National Unity Platform, which came in second with 34%, say the vote was rigged.

While ordinary Ugandans are continuing their normal business, 55-year-old Henry Kisule, a casual laborer, moving on his bicycle says there’s nothing exciting about the inauguration.

He said when Museveni took power in 1986, he was completing his primary education. He has now lived under Museveni for 35 years, and said it is time for change.

“The years he’s been in power are so many. Do we want to see him collapse? He should have ended with the fifth term. And even the little happiness that we had, because the children he would have propelled into power, he’s just torturing them. Things aren’t good, we are not happy,” Kisule said.

According to the State House, six African presidents have confirmed they will attend the inauguration, while another six will be represented.

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, more than 4,000 guests are expected to gather for the outdoor ceremony.