, KAMPALA, Uganda, Jul 9 – Ugandan police on Thursday arrested two top opposition leaders and presidential candidates hoping to challenge veteran President Yoweri Museveni in elections next year, reports said.
Ex-prime minister Amama Mbabazi was arrested in central Uganda, while Kizza Besigye, a leader of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party, was arrested at his home just outside the capital Kampala, the state-owned New Vision newspaper said.
Both were understood to have been arrested ahead of campaign rallies they had planned.
Museveni, who has led the east African nation since 1986, has been endorsed by the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) to represent it in next year’s election.
But Mbabazi, a former close ally of the president, announced last month he would challenge the 70-year-old incumbent for the nomination, sparking criticism from the government, which pointed out that many of the failings of which Mbabazi accuses Museveni happened when he was the party’s secretary general.
Besigye is a three-time presidential election challenger and a former personal doctor to Museveni. READ: Uganda opposition chief launches presidential bid.
After he lost elections in 2011, Besigye led repeated anti-government protests, at which he was regularly arrested and held for a few hours before being released.
Besigye’s colleague, FDC president Mugisha Muntu, a retired army general, has also said he will run.
Museveni on Thursday left for neighbouring South Sudan to celebrate that country’s fourth Independence Day.
The celebrations are taking place under the shadow of an 18-month civil war, between government forces backed by thousands of Ugandan troops and rebels led by a former vice president.