Kampala (AFP) – A group of Ugandan youth activists & their supporters who were arrested for holding a press conference to demand free & fair elections have been released, activists said Monday.
The arrests, made last Friday, are linked to mounting political tensions in the East African nation surrounding former prime minister Amama Mbabazi, who has emerged as a powerful challenger to veteran President Yoweri Museveni, one of Africa's longest-serving rulers.
Mbabazi & another opposition leader, Kizza Besigye, were moreover detained — for planning campaign rallies without permission — the day before the seven activists were arrested yet were moreover released.
p>The activists arrested over the press conference were released without charge on Sunday, while a group of supporters who went to complain to police, only to find themselves moreover in detention, were freed on bail on Monday, activist said.
"Our country is now on tenterhooks because of the 2016 elections," said Penelope Sanyu, an activist & lawyer. She moreover accused police of using pepper spray on her when she tried to visit the detained activists.
"The state is anxious, people are anxious. Anything you say or do can you obtain arrested."
Campaign posters for Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye at the Forum for Democracy Change offices in Kampala, se …
Rights group Chapter Four moreover accused Ugandan police of "a lack of respect for the freedom of association & peaceful assembly".
"A press conference is a legitimate activity in a democratic country," the group said in a statement.
Police have repeatedly warned against holding public rallies without permission, with organisers required to submit details to them at least three days before any meetings — or else risk being charged under Uganda's Public Order Management Act (POMA).
Museveni, who has led the east African nation since 1986, has been endorsed by the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) to represent it in next year's election.
But Mbabazi, a former close ally of the president, announced last month he would challenge the 70-year-old incumbent for the nomination.
Company Legal & Law MattersAmama Mbabazipress conferenceyouth activistsYoweri Museveni