U.S. Calls For Peaceful, Free And Fair Vote, Following Beating Of Uganda Opposition Leader

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[Global: Africa]

Following the reported beating this week by police of Dr. Kizza Besigye, a key opposition party leader in Uganda, the U.S. State Department has called for conditions that will allow the 2011 presidential elections in the East African country to be free, fair and peaceful.

"We have reports that Mr. Besigye may have been involved in an altercation with police during a rally in Kampala. We cannot confirm the details of the altercation at this time," a State Department spokesman told The Black Star News. "We continue to urge all parties in Uganda to work towards a process that allows for elections to take place peacefully, freely and fairly."

The incident occurred June 9.

Uganda media reported that Dr. Besigye, leader of the Forum For Democratic Change (FDC) was whipped and punched by police and soldiers dressed in police uniform. A journalist who covered the incident was also reportedly beaten.


Members of his party's youth wing reportedly used their bodies to shield Dr. Besigye when the security forces started beating him with whips. “Beating me means nothing because I am ready to die if that is the only way of saving this country,” Dr. Besigye told Ugandan reporters. “We shall die rather than live under a terrorist regime.”

The Obama Administration has been criticized for ignoring human rights abuses by Yoweri Museveni's government because Uganda is only one of two African countries to send troops to prop up the U.S.-backed Somali government, which Washington fears has become a haven for Al-Qaeda.

In April Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a report highly critical of the Uganda government,which is a major recipient of U.S. military and financial assistance, as the country heads to next February's presidential vote. Clinton said the lack of an independent Election Commission had created "damage" to the election's credibility.


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