Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye has been returned to home detention under heavy security, a day after he was taken to a police station for trying to protest against presidential election results.
President Yoweri Museveni, who seized power as the leader of a rebellion in 1986, was returned to power in last week’s vote with 60.8 percent of the ballot, the electoral commission said.
Besigye secured 35.4 percent, according to the results, in a poll that he alleges was rigged.
The 59-year-old opposition veteran, who was placed under house arrest by authorities on Friday, was taken away when he attempted to leave his home and join supporters who had planned to march on the headquarters of the country’s electoral commission in the capital, Kampala.
Besigye was quickly bundled by police into an unmarked van, which then sped from the property pursued by other police vehicles, and cars carrying supporters and journalists.
He was kept in a police cell until about 10pm local time, when police took him home, supporters said.
“He is still under police guard and it seems a heavier deployment than before so clearly they don’t want him to leave his home,” Ibrahim Ssemuja, a spokesperman for Besigye’s Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party told Al Jazeera.
Ssemuja said there was no indication of how long Besigye was expected to be kept inside his home by police.
“They will never tell us that and right now we don’t know what their next move will be,” Ssemuja said.
Police said they detained Besigye as he was preparing to lead supporters to the electoral commission to collect the official results because he had not obtained government permission.
Besigye and his supporters said the march would be peaceful, but authorities accused them of plotting to cause trouble.
“We have arrested people who are planning to cause violence in Kampala city centre,” police spokesman Patrick Onyango said in a statement.
Besigye, who was once close to Museveni and served as his field doctor during the war which brought the long-time president to power, has been arrested four times in a little over a week.
He was detained on election day as he tried to show journalists what he said was a vote-rigging operation in a suburban house, and he was held on a separate occasion when he tried to stage a rally in the centre of the capital.
A European Union observer mission said Thursday’s vote lacked transparency and had been conducted in an “intimidating” atmosphere.
US Secretary of State John Kerry phoned Museveni to voice his concern over the harassment of opposition figures and an apparent shutdown of social media services, the state department said.
Museveni, 71, dismissed accusations the electoral commission favoured him and his National Resistance Movement (NRM) party and said he was unconcerned by the EU mission’s statement.
“I told those Europeans … I don’t need lectures from anybody,” Museveni said.
Source: Al Jazeera