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Uganda’s Opposition Leader Arrested Ahead of Museveni’s Swearing In | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Supporters of Uganda’s incumbent President Yoweri Museveni cheer as Museveni arrives on a helicopter at his last campaign rally in Kampala, Uganda, 16 February 2016

NAIROBI-Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye was arrested only hours before Yoweri Museveni, 71, is sworn in for a fifth term as president on Thursday. Museveni won the elections in February with 60 percent of the vote, allowing him to extend his rule to 35 years, noting that he seized power back in 1986.

Besigye did not accept the results, with 35 percent of the vote, citing alleged rigging and other irregularities, resulting in several demonstrations by supporters against the results. Adding that over the past days, squads of military and police personnel have been patrolling the capital Kampala on suspicion the opposition intends to hold protests and thwart Museveni’s inauguration on Thursday.

Patrick Onyango, a police spokesman, said a court order issued in April barred Besigye and the FDC from engaging in anti-government protests. “Today Besigye went ahead and had a procession in downtown Kampala, by doing so he was disobeying lawful orders of the court,” he said.

With barriers near his home, Besigye has been kept under virtual house arrest by police since election day. In addition to the aforementioned, the latter has requested an international audit of the election results, nevertheless his request was not accepted by officials who said that Museveni’s victory was valid.

For instance, because of restoring steady economic growth and stability following years of turmoil, Museveni has gained a lot of respect, but according to critics, he is accused of cracking down on dissent, failing to tackle corruption and seeking a life presidency.

EU election monitors said February’s poll was conducted in an intimidating atmosphere and the electoral commission lacked independence and transparency.

Last week the government banned live media coverage of all opposition activities, citing the court order barring anti-government protests. Opposition supporters have vowed to defy that order.