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Africa

Ugandan opposition figure still being detained at his home

Opposition leader Dr. Kizza Besigye remains under house arrest more than a month after Uganda's general election. Human rights groups and the international community are calling for him to be freed.

Listen to audio 03:59

Listen to the report from DW's Alex Gitta in Kampala

Kizza Besigye has repeatedly faced off with police who have been camping at his residence for more than a month. Besigye ran against President Yoweri Museveni in the February general election.

Museveni won with 61 percent of the vote versus 35 percent for Besigye whose party, the Forum for Democrtatic Change (FDC) contested the results but missed the deadline to challenge the outcome in court because their candidate was under house arrest.

The FDC announced a campaign to protest the treatment of their leader. The protests include plans to hold weekly prayers, to stay away from work on Thursdays and to wear blue on Fridays.

The police arrested Besigye on February 18th and have kept him at his residence near Kampala without charging him with a crime.

"I protested that I don’t want my house to be turned into a prison, I have not been freed from the time I was arrested, which means I have been under detention for more than the time that is allowed by the law," Besigye told reporters.

Freedom of movement

Human Rights activists claim that to detain him for longer than the constitution allows is a violation of Besigye’s fundamental rights.

"With the powers of the commission we record this case, investigate it and pursue it to its logical conclusion," said Agaba Magulu, the chairperson of the Uganda Human Rights Commission.

Through his lawyers, Besigye reported the matter to a local court and judgment was due this week. However on the day the judgement was due to be announced, Besigye’s lawyers were told that a higher court had taken his case file. No reason was given for this development and no new date was given for the continuation of the case.

Yoweri Museveni President of Uganda

President Yoweri Museveni has been in power in Uganda for over 30 years

"If you are a fan of conspiracy theories you might think that somebody is trying very hard to ensure that this matter is not heard," said David Mpanga, Besigye’s lawyer.

Government responds

Uganda's Internal Affairs Minister Rose Akol was put to task by a parliamentary committee this week to explain Besigye’s continued detention. She told the committee that security had information that Besigye intended to disorganize the capital city.

President Yoweri Museveni told reporters that he was contacted by a number of diplomats on the issue, including US secretary of state John Kerry, whom he told that this was a domestic issue.

"Besigye cannot be allowed to disturb our peace," said the president.

Various international human rights bodies and foreign governments have asked the government to formally charge Besigye in the courts of law or allow him the freedom to leave his house. It does not appear that Ugandan authorities are planning to allow Besigye to freely move from his home anytime soon.

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