Former presidential candidate Kizza Besigye, who fled his Kampala home on 17 August and arrived in the US via South Africa on Friday 24 August, has said that he fled Uganda last week because he feared for his life after hearing that Ugandan security agents were planning to arrest him. Ugandan presidential spokeswoman Hope Kivengere told IRIN on Thursday that those who committed crimes in Uganda went to court, and that those who had not committed any crime should have no fear of arrest. “Many people leave Uganda for many reasons, so this business of Besigye leaving the country is neither here nor there,” she said.
In an interview with IRIN in the US on Wednesday, Besigye said he hoped to challenge western donors’ belief in Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s commitment to democracy, and that he planned to return to Uganda to build a broad coalition of organisations committed to a democratic transformation. Kivengere said Besigye was perfectly entitled to return, and to organise politically, since Uganda was a democracy. “Anyone who wants to organise, to put forward a [political] platform, can go ahead and do so,” she said.
While insisting he was loathe to use violence to achieve his political goals, Besigye did not rule it out. “I have gone through a process of violent conflict, a violent change of government before, and I am keenly aware of what it costs,” he said, but “... if the government leaves no option open for peaceful and democratic means of changing or addressing leadership issues, then I’m afraid I will not have the option of avoiding the regrettable and disruptive means of using force.”
[for more details, see separate IRIN report headlined “UGANDA: Besigye says he feared arrest, physical danger” at: http://www.reliefweb.int/IRIN/index.phtml]
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