Uganda Arrests Ex-Security Chief Seeking to Unseat President

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(Bloomberg) --

Ugandan authorities arrested a former security minister seeking to unseat President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power for more than three decades.

Retired Lieutenant General Henry Tumukunde was arrested for “alleged treason” on Thursday, police spokesman Fred Enanga said in a statement. Officers will continue to search Tumukunde’s premises in the capital, Kampala on Friday for any additional evidence.

Tumukunde’s recent utterances on radio and television “seek to foster hatred that might lead to inter-community violence,” Enanga said in the statement. “He in addition, calls on the support of a neighboring country to support him in removing the current leadership with or without the ballot.”

Political tensions in Africa’s top coffee-exporter are heightening in the run-up to the general elections early next year, with the opposition accusing the government of intensifying a clump down on dissent. The arrest of Tumukunde comes after Museveni, 75, dropped him as security minister in 2018 and less than two weeks following his public expression of interest in becoming president.

Tumukunde joins a burgeoning opposition in Uganda seeking to challenge Museveni’s hold on to power from 1986, when a five year guerrilla-war brought him into office. He has won regular elections since 1996 and became eligible to contest in the next after lawmakers in 2017 removed the upper age-limit of 75 years for a presidential candidate.

Robert Kyagulanyi, a 38-year-old pop star and politician popularly known as Bobi Wine, has become one of Museveni’s biggest opponents yet. On March 9, Kyagulanyi blamed the government for extra-judicial killings of supporters of his people power movement. The police said it didn’t have the camera footage to review at least one incident last month.

Opposition leader Kizza Besigye has faced repeated arrest and beatings by the authorities in the run-up to elections over the past two decades.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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