Opposition candidate of Ugandan presidential elections arrested
Uganda's main opposition candidate Kizza Besigye was arrested by the Ugandan police. Police used tear gas outside Besigye's Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) headquarters in Kampala, before arresting Besigye. This marked the third time in a week that Besigye was detained by the police. The police is yet to clarify the reason for Besigye's arrest, a move condemned by the US embassy in Uganda.
The Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa, bordered by Kenya, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania. Uganda gained independence from Britain on 9 October 1962 and has been mired by intermittent ethnic and political conflicts ever since. Agriculture is the main source of income for 2/3 of the population and coffee is the main export.
The President of Uganda has executive power as head of state, and is elected for a five-year term. Candidates are required to win 50% plus one vote in order to win, or face a run-off with the second-ranked candidate within a month. Opposition parties allege that the electoral commission had failed to update the voters roll since 2011 which could affect the current polls.
There are three main candidates for the current presidential election, President Museveni, Kizza Besigye and Amama Mbabazi. Museveni has remained in power since winning the Ugandan civil war in 1986. Besigye was once the personal physician to Museveni, but contested against him in the last 3 elections and lost. Mbabazi was the Ugandan PM from 2011-2014 and was dismissed after announcing his presidential bid.
High unemployment rates, corruption in governance, and the quality of public services are some of the major issues that Ugandan citizens want addressed. The utilization of the country's oil reserves, discovered in 2006 has also been the subject of much debate. In light of these circumstances, the top three candidates highlighted infrastructure development, fighting corruption, creating jobs and improving health care as their priorities.
In 2005, a year before President Museveni was to complete his final term, a constitutional referendum was held, which cancelled a 19-year ban on multi-party politics and more importantly, lifted presidential term limits.
International observers reported increasing instances of government crackdowns on opposition leaders, rallies and supporters Amama Mbabazi and Kizza Besigye's election rallies were broken up over allegations that they were unsanctioned. They have also alleged to have restricted access to media. Observers pointed out that the state-owned Uganda Broadcasting Corporation gave President Museveni 44% of its airtime, Mr Mbabazi 24%, and Mr Besigye 4%.
Kizza Besigye, one of Uganda's main opposition candidates was briefly detained by police ahead of presidential elections in the country. Mr Besigye has in the past lost three disputed elections against long-time leader Yoweri Museveni and has been arrested several times. Yoweri Museveni, 71, has been in power for 30 years and is running for a fifth term in office.
The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) blocked social media in Uganda following complaints that social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. was being used for campaigning despite campaigns officially ending on February 16. The UCC said that the platforms would be unblocked after the security situation was assessed. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said that the sites were blocked to stop people from "telling lies".