World Bulletin / News Desk
Uganda's former prime minister Amama Mbabazi said on Friday he would stand as an independent candidate in the 2016 presidential election, accusing the ruling party of illegally blocking his efforts to stand on its ticket.
A former close ally of veteran leader Yoweri Museveni, who is widely expected to secure another five-year term, Mbabazi is one of Uganda's most popular and skilled politicians.
Mbabazi was sacked from his prime ministerial post last year in an evolving power struggle. He is the second opposition figure, after Kizza Besigye, to announce a campaign against Museveni's bid to extend his near 30-year rule.
The east African country is due to hold its presidential and parliamentary elections between February and March next year.
In a statement, Mbabazi accused the leadership of Museveni's National Resistance Movement (NRM) of using security services and other means to thwart his nomination for the NRM ticket.
This was, he said, "indicative of the extent to which the top party leadership is willing to go in order to stop me from contesting."
"I have decided that I will not stand in NRM as a flag-bearer but I will carry on with my intentions," he said. His spokeswoman Josephine Mayanja-Nkangi said that meant he would stand as an independent candidate.
Museveni's spokesman Don Wanyama denied Mbabazi's accusations and said he had switched to an independent ticket because he realised he could not defeat Museveni to become the NRM's flag-bearer.
"He's trying to play the victim because he's seeking an international audience and sympathy," he said.
On July 9, police arrested Mbabazi and Besigye, accusing them of flouting the country's electoral and public order management laws. They were released without charges after about 12 hours.
As opposition to Museveni has grown, government critics and independent analysts say he is increasingly relying on security personnel to stifle dissent and intimidate opponents. His office denies this.
Besigye, who has stood and lost three times in elections he says were rigged, has been arrested numerous times since the last polls in 2011. The police have accused him of seeking to use an Arab Spring-style uprising to topple the government.Güncelleme Tarihi: 31 Temmuz 2015, 18:29