KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — An opposition supporter was fatally shot Monday Feb. 15, in clashes with the police during a campaign event in the capital, the police and a presidential candidate said Tuesday, raising concern over the role of the security forces in tight presidential elections Thursday.
Police spokesman Fred Enanga confirmed Tuesday that one civilian was killed in scuffles and that the police fired rubber bullets to disperse supporters of presidential candidate Kizza Besigye.
Besigye, in a close race with long-time Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, said Tuesday Feb. 16, he does not believe the election will be free and fair, and urged his supporters to defy any illegal orders by the authorities.
One such order is a ban on carrying mobile phones to polling stations, a decree that some worry would hamper efforts to promote transparency during the elections. Besigye is urging his supporters to protect their votes at the polling stations, while the country’s election commission has been encouraging voters to vote and then return home. Besigye’s supporters say those with smartphones, for example, might be able to record any illegal or inappropriate events at polling stations.
Eduard Kukan, who is leading election monitors from the European Union, told reporters Tuesday that he would raise concerns with the election commission, including over the voters’ register.
Museveni, who took power by force three decades ago, has said the military will “smash” those who threaten national security. That amounts to intimidation, according to Besigye, a retired army colonel who served as deputy interior minister in Museveni’s first Cabinet. Besigye broke ranks with the government in 2000, citing the lack of democracy within the ruling party.
“Our people spoke with one voice and gave a simple message that they want change,” Besigye told reporters Tuesday. “That was a very strong and direct message everywhere we went.”
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