Dozens of senior Ugandan military officers have been arrested over suspected plot to overthrow Uganda’s longstanding President Yoweri Museveni, according to the Associated Press.
The arrests took place on Saturday following the detention of a colonel with Uganda’s Air Force under unclear circumstances, which was interpreted as subversion. This prompted the arrest of numerous Ugandan military officers suspected to be involved in the alleged plot, Uganda’s military spokesman Lt. Col. Paddy Ankunda told AP.
According to Col. Ankunda, the Ugandan military officers are suspected to have links to Michael Kabaziguruka, an opposition legislator and a close ally of now-besieged opposition leader Kizza Besigye, who was arrested last month and charged with treason for unlawfully swearing-in himself as President of Uganda following a contested presidential election in February, which the incumbent President Museveni won.
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Col. Ankunda said Kabaziguruka is also being questioned by police over his involvement in the alleged coup.
Since the disputed election in February, Uganda has been gripped by a cloud of uncertainty as the government has continued to arrest and intimidate opposition supporters who have continued to challenge President Museveni’s re-election for his fifth successive term.
Uganda’s chief opposition leader and Museveni’s main political rival Kizza Besigye was arrested on May 9, a day before Museveni’s swearing-in ceremony, after he dramatically swore himself in as the people’s president. He was later taken to court and charged with treason.
Many opposition supporters have also been arrested for allegedly disrupting peace through unlawful protests. Two weeks ago, several Ugandan youths were arrested for being in possession of T-shirts bearing the face of the incarcerated opposition leader Kizza Besigye.
A week before that, at least 18 opposition protesters were arrested in Kampala for alleged attempt to disrupt Museveni’s swearing-in ceremony. The Ugandan government then issued a warning to all media houses in Uganda against offering live coverage to opposition protesters.
Alleged Plot to Assassinate Besigye
On May 22, Besigye’s wife, Winnie Byanyima told the Observer that she fears her husband, who is remanded at Luzira Maximum Prison, might be poisoned.
“This is a regime that has amassed weapons including poisons that can be used against opponents,” she stated.
She also narrated how two masked men had attempted to enter Besigye’s detention cell the night he was arrested, adding that her entire family is leaving in fear especially because the government has stepped up surveillance on them.
The Ugandan Prison Service spokesman Frank Baine has maintained that the opposition leader is safe and sound, but Winnie warned that they will hold the government accountable if Besigye is poisoned.