US calls for Besigye’s release as Museveni celebrates win

Mr Museveni who has been in power for 30 years was declared winner.

Monday February 22 2016

Ugandan police stand guard outside Opposition leader Kizza Besigye's home in Kampala on February 21, 2016. The US Embassy spokesperson Christopher J. Brown said that his government is concerned by Beisgye’s continued house arrest and the clampdown on social media. PHOTO | AFP

Ugandan police stand guard outside Opposition leader Kizza Besigye's home in Kampala on February 21, 2016. The US Embassy spokesperson Christopher J. Brown said that his government is concerned by Beisgye’s continued house arrest and the clampdown on social media. PHOTO | AFP 

By DAILY MONITOR
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KAMPALA

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

Dr 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 Museveni 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 per cent 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 he is not allowed to leave or meet anyone from the public or the 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,” Dr 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.

WINNER AND LOSERS
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.

President Museveni celebrated extending his three decades in power with a walk with his beloved cows.

In contrast with the images of Besigye’s besieged home, pictures released by the government showed a relaxed Museveni walking in the midst of his long-horn cattle and chatting with their herders, wielding a stick and wearing his trademark wide-brimmed hat.

Another photograph showed the 71-year-old leader surrounded by his family.

Born in western Uganda to a cattle-rearing family, he has always said he plans to be a herder on his retirement.

While Museveni succeeded to extend his rule of the East African country, over a dozen influential ministers lost their parliamentary seats.

Among them were defence minister Crispus Kiyonga, who is spearheading regional efforts to end the political crisis in Burundi, and attorney general Fred Ruhindi.

Urging the world to ignore the results, Besigye said: “Should you ratify the results of these sham elections, at least have the courage to admit that you do not care about democracy or human rights in Africa.”