It was drama in Kampala, Uganda, on Wednesday: the main opposition leader Kizza Besigye was promptly arrested by Ugandan police after he dramatically swore himself in as President of Uganda, just a few hours to the inauguration of the incumbent President Yoweri Museveni:
“I, Kizza Besigye Kifefe, swear in the name of the almighty God that I will be faithful and swear my allegiance to the public of Uganda and that I shall preserve, protect and defend the constitution. So help me God.”
He was arrested immediately after the “unlawful” swearing-in ceremony, however. “We have taken him to Naggalama police station, where he will be detained,” city police spokesperson Patrick Onyango told AFP.
Besigye’s arrest is seen as a precautionary measure by the Ugandan government to prevent chaos during Museveni’s swearing-in as the President of Uganda for the fifth consecutive term.
Museveni was sworn in earlier today during an event attended by various African heads of state including the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and the Sudanese President Omar Bashir.
Long-Standing Political Rivalry
Tension has remained high in Uganda since February when the incumbent President Museveni was controversially declared winner in the February election, beating his closest and long-standing political rival Dr. Kizza Besigye by over 25 percent of the total vote.
Besigye denounced the results calling them “fraud”, while some international election observers claimed the election was held in an “intimidating environment.”
Another opposition leader, former Prime Minister of Uganda Amama Mbabazi, who came in third in the February election, filed a petition in court challenging Museveni’s victory. The Supreme Court of Uganda, however, dismissed the case, saying it lacked merit.
Before their now seemingly bitter rivalry, Dr. Kizza Besigye used to work as President Museveni’s personal doctor. He also served as the Minister of State in the President’s office and as a Senior Military Adviser to the Ministry of Defense.
However, the two fell out in 1999 after Besigye released a hard-hitting dossier titled, “An Insider’s View of How NRM Lost the Broad-Base,” which criticized Museveni’s rule. Dr. Besigye later wrote a letter to President Museveni regretting the controversy that the dossier had generated, but it seems the damage was done.
In 2001, Besigye challenged Museveni in elections, which he lost. He later fled the country and only returned in 2005 ahead of 2006 elections. He was charged with treason and rape just before the elections and was later acquitted on both counts. To this day, the two have not seen eye to eye.