Kizza Besigye: Vote Will Not Be Free or Fair

Ugandans will be going to the polls tomorrow Thursday as Museveni seeks to extend his three decades in power.

The leading challenger to Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said on Tuesday he had no confidence that elections this week would be free or fair, as all the major candidates held huge rallies in the capital Kampala to mark the end of the campaign.

Kizza Besigye, a long-time opposition leader who has lost three previous elections, told reporters the “overwhelming enthusiasm” for change after three decades of Museveni rule “has caused panic in the no-change camp”. “That is why, yesterday, elements of the Uganda police and other security agencies unleashed violence on our supporters and sabotaged our campaign in Kampala,” he said. “The election has no chance of being free and fair.””That is why, yesterday, elements of the Uganda police and other security agencies unleashed violence on our supporters and sabotaged our campaign in Kampala,” he said. “The election has no chance of being free and fair.”

Besigye spoke a day after police stormed his rally in the capital Kampala with tear gas, killing one person and injuring 19 others, and briefly held him in custody.

Besigye, who has been repeatedly detained by police, has said he is a frequent target of government intimidation tactics and has accused Museveni of rigging polls and using state funds to prop up his party.

It was the worst violence since the campaign opened three months ago and heightened tensions before the Thursday’s presidential and parliamentary votes.

Critics say voters have grown impatient with high unemployment and the poor state of the country’s schools and health centres, giving fresh life to Museveni’s challengers.

Besigye  has constantly blasted Museveni for running a government of patronage that neglects Uganda’s poor, held a final rally at sunset in a field close to the police headquarters. Despite heavy police presence, the rally went ahead without incident.

Officials say Besigye has simply been punished for engaging in illegal behaviour, such as breaking rules on where and when campaign activities were allowed

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