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Envoys ask government to free Dr Besigye

A group of foreign envoys have this afternoon called upon the Police force to release Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) presidential contender Dr Kizza Besigye from endless detentions and house arrests.

The envoys included; the European Union Head of Mission Kristian Schmidt, Patricia Mahoney, the Deputy Chief of Mission U.S. Embassy Kampala, the High Commissioner of the United Kingdom Alison Blackburn, the Dutch, French and Irish Ambassadors.

Their call came after meeting with Besigye and FDC president Gen Mugisha Muntu at Besigye's home in Kasangati, Wakiso district.

Kizza Besigye looks at spikes and a police van placed at his home in Kasangati to prevent him from leaving

EU Ambassador Kristian Schmidt told journalists that the meeting discussed a wide range of issues which included the continued incarceration of Besigye both at his home and in different police stations, possible court action to challenge the outcome of the February 18 general election and use of language that can lead to violence.

"We consider the continued custody of Dr Besigye as a clear violation of his basic freedom and human rights. Fundamental freedoms must be respected," Schmidt says.

Police insists that the continued 'preventive arrest' of Besigye is meant to stop him from mobilising his supporters to cause chaos in the city.

Patricia Mahoney, the Deputy Chief of Mission U.S. Embassy Kampala said the opposition should be allowed to exercise its role and mandate in Uganda.

"We believe that the opposition has a legitimate role to play and government should allow it to play that role," Mahoney says.

The envoys also encouraged Besigye to go to court over the alleged rigging of the presidential election. Results announced by the Electoral Commission indicate that the National Resistance Movement party candidate Yoweri Museveni garnered 5,971,872 and emerged victor with 60.6% against 3, 508,687 votes obtained by Dr Kizza Besigye representing 35.6% of the total votes cast.

But there is a general feeling in the public that the polls were rigged to make Museveni the ultimate winner. As a matter of fact, the preceding district and local council elections on February 24 were largely shunned by the electorate over the same feeling that their ballot choices no longer count and thus a waste of time.
The US Embassy in Kampala also released a statement this afternoon calling on Ugandan authorities to release Besigye from house arrest and to permit him to travel freely.

“We note that Dr. Besigye has been under near continuous police detention since the February 18 election, has not been charged with any crime, and was denied his constitutional right to participate in the February 24 election,” the statement reads in part.

The statement says that the Electoral Commission's delay in releasing polling data, along with Dr. Besigye's detention and arrest of party agents, has inhibited citizens' ability to verify vote tallies and potentially challenge the election results in court within the constitutionally mandated ten-day period.
“Officials of all parties, including the opposition, must be allowed to provide their leadership with polling data collected during the vote, free from intimidation or threat of detention, in accordance with international norms and the principles of a democratic society,” it adds.

The Electoral Commission has published the results on their website.

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