Uganda Opposition Leader Arrested Trying to March on Vote HQ

  • Besigue protesting vote results that showed loss to incumbent
  • Opposition says police destroyed computers, arrested staff

Uganda’s main opposition leader was arrested as he left his home to march on the electoral commission offices in protest at the result of last week’s vote that saw him lose to President Yoweri Museveni.

Police seized Kizza Besigye about 9:30 a.m. Monday, the chairman of his Forum for Democratic Change, Wasswa Birigwa, said by phone. He’s being held at a police station about 40 kilometers (24.9 miles) northeast of the capital, Kampala. The FDC, which is doing its own vote-tally, said on Twitter that police blocked its offices as it prepared to hold a press conference and destroyed documents and computers before arresting data-entry staff.

Fred Enanga, a police spokesman in the East African nation, didn’t answer calls seeking comment. In a statement on Sunday, he warned Besigye against staging a march without government permission.

Uganda’s electoral commission said Saturday that Museveni won the Feb. 18 vote with 61 percent of ballots. That extends his three-decade rule of the continent’s biggest coffee exporter as it plans oil production in the next two years. Besigye, 59, who’s stood four times against the incumbent, had been under house arrest since Friday.

There has been international concern over the vote’s credibility. Authorities created an atmosphere of intimidation and the electoral commission lacks independence and the trust of the people, the European Union’s chief observer, Eduard Kukan, told reporters on Saturday. The state body said it was committed to overseeing credible elections.

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