Uganda briefly detains opposition leader

Mugisha Muntu said their campaign for fair elections would go on as planned.

Uganda briefly detains opposition leader

World Bulletin / News Desk

Ugandan police on Friday detained the leader of the country's largest opposition party for trying to organize an unlicensed meeting before releasing him hours later.

"Patrol police came and dispersed people who had gathered for our meeting using sticks and whips," retired Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu, leader of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), told Anadolu Agency by phone.

"Then they got me and Father Gaetano Batanyenda, a Catholic priest in Kabale, and put us in a police vehicle," he recalled.

The opposition had planned to organize a meeting to discuss its "Free and Fair Elections Now" campaign, launched in February to advocate for electoral reform ahead of 2016 general elections.

Minutes before the meeting had been scheduled to begin at Kabale's Hill Top Hotel, police sealed off the premises.

"We could not force our way in; they were armed, we were not," Muntu told AA.

The opposition leaders waked away, telling the assembled crowd that they would have to hold the meeting another day.

"The police started to disperse the crowd and brought a tow truck to take away our vehicles," said Muntu.

He and Niringiye, a retired bishop-turned-activist, then retired to a nearby gas station to discuss their next step – when police showed up yet again.

"That's when we were arrested," Muntu said, adding that they didn't know where they were being taken until police stopped in the Kisoro district, some 60km away.

"They kept us in police custody for close to three hours and later released us," he told AA.

The police insist the meeting was unlawful, saying the activists had failed to follow the right procedures.

The FDC leader, however, says the trouble had begun one day earlier when police raided a radio station and asked the program manager to shut down the programming.

"We were 15 minutes into the show when the district police commander, Bosco Arop, came in and threatened the program manager of the radio station," Muntu said.

"He said he had clear orders and even when we explained he did not budge so we had to leave the station," he recalled.

The opposition leader remains defiant, however, saying the campaign for fair elections would go on as planned.

"We will continue with this program; it's the only hope that the country has to change and remain stable," Muntu asserted.

"All we want to do is influence public opinion so that we can have a critical mass of people to say 'no' to the current regime," he added.

Last Mod: 29 Mart 2014, 09:59
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