Besigye arrested for fourth time in 8 days

Journalists jostle to take pictures of FDC presidential candidate Kizza Besigye as he is arrested by police officers at his home in Kasangati yesterday. Photo by Abubaker Lubowa

Kampala- Forum for Democratic Change’s Dr Kizza Besigye spent the whole of yesterday in a cell at Naggalama Police Station in Mukono District, after he was arrested in the morning as he attempted to leave his home to go to the Electoral Commission offices.

Dr Besigye said he wanted to collect results declaration that he could use in a possible election petition.

He has now been arrested four times in a space of only one week. He was first arrested two days to the elections, then again at a secret police facility in Naguru shortly after the counting of votes had started at polling stations countrywide.

He claimed that pre-ticking of ballot papers in favour of Mr Museveni was going on at a house on Naguru Hill Road, and that an illegal tally centre had been set up there to change results from districts before they reached the national tally centre.

Dr Besigye was arrested one more time a day after the elections, when he, together with Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu, his party president, and Ms Ingrid Turinawe, the FDC secretary for mobilisation, were arrested from a party meeting at Najjanankumbi and again detained at Naggalama.

Dr Besigye and the FDC party, which sponsored his candidature in the February 18, presidential election, rejected the results declared by the EC at the weekend, which showed that the ruling NRM candidate Yoweri Museveni had won with close to 60.7 per cent of the votes while Dr Besigye had scored 35 per cent.

The party said the election was riddled with “massive” irregularities, ranging from pre-ticking ballots in favour of Mr Museveni and stuffing ballot boxes with ballots pre-ticked in Mr Museveni’s favour, to manipulating election results while Dr Besigye said the results were “based on fiction”.

Heavy deployment
The government deployed the army and police in Kampala and across different towns during and after the elections.
The Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, speaking at the EC offices yesterday, said Dr Besigye was “not special”, adding that the Opposition leader had not abided by the requirement of notifying the police three days in advance that he would hold a procession to the Electoral Commission.

He said the Opposition leader, who was still in custody by press time, would be released and returned to his home.

When Dr Besigye was arrested just outside his gate, he was with only his driver in the car and when the police barricaded the road, he walked out of the car and said he would then march to the EC offices.
The police in the process of forcing him into a waiting van to drive him to Naggalama, sprayed pepper in the eyes of at least two photojournalists who were scampering to take pictures.
Speaking to the media on Sunday, Dr Besigye said he was pressed for time to collect evidence in case he is to file an election petition since the law grants only 10 days after the declaration of results. With yesterday also gone, Dr Besigye has eight days left starting today.

Ms Turinawe was also arrested last evening as she drove from the FDC party headquarters in Najjanankumbi to Naggalama where Dr Besigye was still detained.

At Najjanankumbi, Ms Turinawe had joined Maj Gen Muntu and party chairman Wasswa Biriggwa in a meeting with a team of election observers from the European Union. The trio had after the meeting been joined by the lawyer Yusuf Nsibambi, who played a central part in Dr Besigye’s campaign, to go check on Dr Besigye in Naggalama.

Mr Patrick Onyango, the spokesperson for Kampala Metropolitan police, had not got back to us with details of where Ms Turinawe had been detained as he had promised, but he had told Daily Monitor in regard to the people rounded up at the FDC headquarters that they were suspected of being coordinators of Dr Besigye’s Power 10 network. Ms Turinawe is the head of mobilisation in the party.