Not much may be known about major opposition candidate for Uganda’s presidential office, Kizza Besigye, besides the fact that he used to be the President’s personal doctor and speedily rose in ranks before he broke away to pursue the presidency, but the man seems to have an unending supply of endurance. After three years of contesting for the same office against Uganda’s incumbent President Yoweri Museveni, and failing at each turn, he does not seem to be losing any steam.
Kizza Besigye has had quite a number of arrests in the course of his political aspirations, most of which saw him released hours or days later without being charged with any specific crimes. Dr Besigye has been arrested repeatedly. On one occasion, he actually got shot in the hand, while another saw him suffering eye injuries after being doused in pepper spray. He’d had to travel to Kenya for treatment.
The trend had however seemingly seized in this particular presidential run, that is at least until Monday when Mr. Besigye was hauled in by Ugandan police, just a number of days ahead of the presidential elections scheduled for Thursday the 18th of February. Mr. Besigye had been on his way to a campaign rally when Ugandan police started firing tear gas on Monday morning to disperse his supporters before proceeding to take him into custody.
The police had told a BBC correspondent that Mr Besigye had indeed not been under arrest but had been held for disobeying orders that required the presidential candidates not to disrupt traffic. At least one person was killed in the altercation on Monday while Ugandan police fought running battles with opposition supporters, firing tear gas in order to briefly detain Besigye, a Kampala police spokesman Patrick Onyango had told AFP; “Police can confirm one person died during the confusion today,” he gave no further details.
Supporters and members of the Besigye led Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party have sounded out outrage on the action of the police, with one of them saying; “We protest in the strongest terms police brutality towards our supporters and targeting our candidate”. The Minister for the Presidency, Frank Tumwebaze however defended the actions of the police saying that it was “madness” that Besigye had tried to hold a rally in the centre of the capital and the police had a duty to ensure calm in the city ahead of the elections.