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Ugandan Police End House Arrest of Opposition Leader After Election Results are Confirmed By Top Court

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On Friday 1 April, Ugandan police ended a six-week-long house arrest of an opposition leader that was imposed after he claimed that recent presidential elections were rigged.

Second-placed Kizza Besigye, who rejected the results of the 18 February election won by veteran President Yoweri Museveni, has been forcibly kept inside his home in the capital Kampala for 43 days. He has said that his detention was designed in order to block him from gathering evidence of fraud in what he called a “scandalous” election. On Friday, Ugandan police chief Kale Kayihura stated that he has “…given directive that the deployment of police outside Besigye’s home be withdrawn forthwith.”

While the police chief provided no explanation why the house arrest was being lifted, it comes just a day after the country’s Supreme Court dismissed a legal challenge to the election result and upheld Museveni’s fifth-term victory. With Besigye unable to submit a legal challenge, third-placed Amama Mbabazi, a former prime minister who won just over one percent of the vote, filed the suit that was rejected in court on 31 March.

Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, was declared the winner with 61 percent of the vote. He has rejected claims that his victory was won through cheating and fraud. A long-standing opponent of the president, Besigye has been frequently jailed, accused of both treason and rape, teargased and hospitalized over the years, however this was the longest period he had ever been under house arrest. On Friday, Kayihura warned that “we expect Besigye to respect the law, to stop causing trouble for people going about their private businesses,” adding, “ He must respect the law. If he veers off, the police is there to protect people and their property.”

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