, KAMPALA, Uganda, Apr 1 – Uganda police on Friday ended the six-week-long house arrest of an opposition leader imposed after he claimed recent presidential elections were rigged.
Second-placed Kizza Besigye, who rejected the results of the February 18 poll won by veteran President Yoweri Museveni, has been forcibly kept inside his home in the capital Kampala for 43 days.
“I have given directive that the deployment of police outside Besigye’s home be withdrawn forthwith,” Ugandan police chief Kale Kayihura said.
The police chief gave no explanation why the house arrest was being lifted, but on Thursday the country’s Supreme Court dismissed a legal challenge to the election result and upheld Museveni’s fifth-term victory.
Besigye has said his detention was designed to block him from gathering evidence of fraud in what he called a “scandalous” election.
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 this week.
Museveni, in power since 1986, was declared winner with 61 percent of the vote and has rejected claims that his victory was won through cheating and fraud.
A long-standing opponent of Museveni, Besigye has been frequently jailed, accused of both treason and rape, teargassed, beaten and hospitalised over the years, but this was the longest period he had ever been under house arrest.
“We expect Besigye to respect the law, to stop causing trouble for people going about their private businesses,” Kayihura said. “He must respect the law. If he veers off, the police is there to protect people and their property,” he warned.