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US calls for probe into Uganda vote-rigging claims, police brutality

By Mercy Asamba | January 18th 2021

Security forces gather in Kampala, Uganda, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021 when Ugandans were voting in a presidential election tainted by widespread violence. [AP]

The United States (US) State Department has called for independent investigations into reports of irregularities in Uganda's general election held on Thursday last week.

Longest-serving President Yoweri Museveni was declared winner with 58.6 per cent of the votes securing a sixth term. His main rival Bobi Wine got 34.8 per cent and has since rejected the results.

In a statement, the US State Department, said individuals responsible for the electoral malpractice should be held accountable.

“We strongly urge independent, credible, impartial, and thorough investigations into these reports and that those responsible be held accountable,” read part of the statement.

The Department further condemned the security force violence during the pre-election period and the continuing attacks on political candidates, in which Wine fell a victim of.

“We urge the government to respect their human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of expression. We are gravely concerned by harassment of and continued threats to civil society,” the statement read.

The singer-turned-politician, yesterday claimed he had been place under house arrest as the military surrounded his home barring any visitors.

“It’s now four days since the military surrounded our home and placed my wife and I under house arrest. We have run out of food supplies and when my wife tried to pick food from the garden yesterday, she was blocked and assaulted by the soldiers staged in our compound,” Wine claimed.

But the Ugandan authorities brazenly stated that the military presence around his home is intended to offer him security.

His campaign rallies were marred with widespread violence orchestrated by Ugandan police towards his supporters and campaign team with authorities claiming that they were enforcing Covid-19 guidelines.

The government also went ahead to shut down internet a day before Ugandans went to the polls. It was restored today, five days later.

The nationwide internet shutdown along with that of social media services has been condemned by the US who urged the Ugandan government to respect freedom of expression.

“We call upon the Government of Uganda to respect freedom of expression and the right to peaceful assembly, and to hold accountable members of the security forces responsible for violence and abuses,” Morgan Ortagus, the Department Spokesperson said.

Museveni has ruled Uganda since seizing control in 1986, when he helped to end years of tyranny under Idi Amin and Milton Obote.

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