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UN rights office expresses concern over Uganda elections

[JURIST] A spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] expressed concern [press release] Tuesday over the tense situation in Uganda after Thursday's election where President Yoweri Museveni [BBC profile] apparently won a fifth term in office. At least two people have been reported killed with an unknown number injured, and military and police have been occupying the streets. Four other presidential candidates were arrested since the elections, including Kizza Besigye [BBC profile; JURIST report] of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) [party website], Amama Mbabazi [personal website] of the Go Forward party and Abed Bwanika [personal profile] of the People's Development Party. The organization stated:

We remind the Government of Uganda of its obligations under international human rights law not to unduly restrict freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Law enforcement officials shall avoid the use of force or, when that is not possible, restrict it to the minimum extent necessary. Anyone who is arrested shall be informed of the reasons for the arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him or her.
The spokesperson also expressed concern over the police use of force to evacuate the FDC headquarters the day after the election.

Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, belongs to the ruling National Resistance Movement [party website] party. Museveni has been accused of being an authoritarian since he took office by force in 1986, using security forces to retain power. His government has also been criticized for proposing an anti-homosexuality bill, limiting public gatherings and not allowing [JURIST reports] for an independent judiciary. Last month Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] reported that the use of force and intimidation of Ugandan authorities limited the chances [JURIST report] of the election being fair and unbiased. Besigye lost to incumbent President Museveni in previous elections that were criticized by the opposition as fraudulent. Besigye also ran for president in 2002 and 2006, and, prior to that, he was Museveni's personal doctor.

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