Ugandan opposition presidential candidate Bobi Wine says soldiers ransacked his home two days before the decisive vote.
Opposition officials in Uganda criticized the widespread violence by the security forces ahead of Thursday’s presidential election, when main opponent Bobi Wine said soldiers ransacked his home and beat two security forces.
“The terror is frankly unprecedented,” said Kizza Besigye, a seasoned opposition leader who challenged longtime President Yoweri Museveni in four elections. “Violence and terror seem to increase with each coming election. This election witnessed countless acts of violence. It’s getting worse every day. “
Patrick Onyango, police spokesman for the capital, Kampala, denied that Wine’s house had been searched or that anyone had been arrested.
Wine, a popular singer and politician whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, spoke with other opposition figures in Kampala on the last day of the campaign to deny Museveni another term.
The atmosphere is becoming increasingly charged. The military is responsible for all security operations in the Kampala metropolitan area.
Wine, who insisted that his campaign be non-violent, urged his supporters not to be intimidated by security forces.
At 38, wine is half the age of Museveni and has a large following among young people in a nation where 80 percent of the population is under 30.
He is considered the front runner among ten candidates who challenge the former rebel leader who took power in 1986.
While security forces have cracked down on the opposition in previous elections, preparation for this year’s vote has been particularly violent. In November, 54 people were killed when soldiers and police suppressed protests after Wine was arrested.
Wine said the raid on his Kampala property and the arrest of his guards took place while interviewing Kenya’s Hot 96 FM radio station.
“I have to end the interview because I can see soldiers beating my security forces,” he said.
Prevention of election fraud
Wine and other leading opposition candidates said they had made a concerted effort to protect themselves against election fraud at polling stations.
They urge their supporters to stay within 100 meters of polling stations instead of returning home, as requested by the electoral commission. That means possible confrontations with security forces.
Police and military are now patrolling the streets in parts of Kampala.
Ugandan authorities appeared to have closed Facebook on Tuesday in retaliation for its decision to censor many Museveni-related Ugandan accounts allegedly involved in fraudulent conduct.
Many Ugandans said WhatsApp didn’t work either.
A spokesman for the president accused Facebook on Monday of meddling in the East African country’s elections.
A spokesman for the Uganda Communications Commission, the regulator, did not respond to requests for comment.
Ugandan authorities have urgently reiterated the need to prevent the spread of the coronavirus by imposing restrictions on presidential candidates, including banning campaigns in Kampala and other urban areas.
Many of Wine’s campaign team are now in jail. Wein has been arrested many times over the past year and sometimes beaten for alleged crimes such as failure to comply with legal requirements. He was not convicted of any charges.
Museveni has accused Wine of “being an agent of foreign interests”. The Septuagenarian leader has defied demands for his resignation, saying that he has been elected multiple times by Ugandans who love him.
Ugandan polls are often marred by allegations of manipulation. The country has not seen a peaceful transfer of power since independence from Great Britain in 1962.