Sunday February 21 2016

US calls for Besigye’s release from house arrest

FDC presidential candidate Kizza Besigye

FDC presidential candidate Kizza Besigye (raising hands) calms his supporters shortly before he was arrested at Jinja road in Kampala during campaigns recently. File photo  

By Job Bwire

The US government has asked the Uganda government to release opposition leader Dr Kizza Besigye from a security siege at his home.

Besigye, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) presidential candidate in the Thursday elections, was apparently placed under house arrest since Friday to prevent him from announcing his vote tally in the elections which saw President Yoweri Musevei declared winner by the Electoral Commission Chairman Badru Kiggundu on Saturday. Mr Museveni who has been in power for 30 years was declared winner with 60.75 percent of the vote while Besigye, his closest challenger, received 35.37 per cent.
Dr Besigye’s home in Kasangati, Wakiso district is sealed off by security personnel and is not allowed to leave or meet anyone from the public or press.

“Nobody is allowed to access my home. I am also under some kind of electronic blockade. I am unable to access any form of internet service in my house. Generally, the regime is baring its bloodied fangs and claws for all to see. This has not been an electoral process. This is a creeping military coup," Besigye is quoted to have said.
The US Embassy spokesperson Christopher J. Brown said on Sunday that his government is concerned by Beisgye’s continued house arrest and the clampdown on social media.

“We are concerned by the continued house arrest of opposition presidential candidate Kizza Besigye. We call for his immediate release and the restoration of access to all social media sites,” Mr Brown said in a statement.
According to Mr Brown, while the vote occurred without major unrest, “we must acknowledge numerous reports of irregularities and official conduct that are deeply inconsistent with international standards and expectations for any democratic process.”

“Delays in the delivery of voting materials, reports of pre-checked ballots and vote buying, ongoing blockage of social media sites, and excessive use of force by the police, collectively undermine the integrity of the electoral process. The Ugandan people deserved better,” he added.
He urged those who wish to contest the election results to do so peacefully and in accordance with Uganda’s laws and judicial process, called upon government to respect the rights and freedoms of its people and refrain from interference in those processes.