Rattled By Burundi Chaos, Uganda Dictator Arrests Besigye, Opposition Chief Calling For Reforms

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Gen. Museveni rushed back to Uganda to arrest opposition leaders when coup announced in Burundi

Reports from Kampala are that Dr. Kizza Besigye, Uganda's leading opposition figure who has been calling for electoral law reforms was arrested today with another leader as both attended a meeting to discuss next year's voting.

The opposition parties and activists demand change in advance of next year's vote, concerned, as they claim, that Gen. Yoweri Museveni will rig the outcome as he's successfully done in the past.  Barring the changes, some opposition leaders have called for a vote boycott. Dr. Besigye is the former president of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) and one-time personal doctor to Gen. Museveni.

In near-by Burundi, soldiers loyal to President Pierre Nkurunziza are battling others on the side of a general who announced a coup yesterday.

The general, Godefroid Niyombareh, says President Nkurunziza's ouster results from his insistence on running for a third presidential term. Nkurunziza who was attending a meeting in Tanzania to discuss Burundi's crisis claims the coup has failed. What's more, since parliament appointed him for his first five year term, it shouldn't count towards the two-terms limit, he argues.

There are reports of continued fighting between loyalists and those seeking  Nkurunziza's ouster; he's believed to still be in Tanzania.

Uganda's Gen. Yoweri Museveni, who had also been attending the meeting in Tanzania, rushed back to Uganda when the Burundi coup, or coup attempt, was announced.

The opposition leaders were then arrested today and others were prevented from entering a hall where the electoral reform discussion was to be held.

Uganda is to hold presidential elections in March 2016. The opposition parties are united in demanding for electoral reforms that include an independent election commission whose members aren't hand-picked by Gen. Museveni; a review of the voters' roll; independent monitors; preventing the incumbent from monopolizing state media and resources; non-interference in opposition rallies; and secure polling stations without the military intimidating voters.

In the past election Gen. Museveni's agents distributed cash the Central Bank was forced to print, in order to attract voters. Central Bank governor Dr. Emmanuel Tumusiime-Mutebile, anxious to avoid the inflation that undermined the Ugandan economy five years ago has vowed not to repeat the mass-printing; he was recently reported hospitalized.

The opposition parties also vow to restore presidential term limits, which Gen. Museveni arm-twisted Parliament into deleting from the constitution in 2005.

Other activists have demanded that Gen. Museveni, who has ruled for 29 years now since he seized power, not run in the 2016 vote since he would also be age-barred and ineligible.

In addition to Dr. Besigye's arrest, also detained was the mayor of Kampala, Erias Lukwago.

 

 

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