Violence erupted in Uganda's capital Kampala as police clashed with opposition supporters after briefly detaining Kizza Besigye, a leading presidential candidate, twice as he tried to hold campaign rallies days before a general election. At least one to three people have been killed in the mayhem. The outbreak of violence came just three days before presidential and parliamentary elections are due to take place on February 18 in Uganda.
Several people were wounded in the clashes as police fired bullets and tear gas while opposition supporters hurled rocks and erected street barricades in the capital's Wandegeya suburb, witnesses said according to a Reuters news agency report..
The main opposition leader Kizza Besigye, who heads the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party, was held on Monday evening, his second brief detention of the day, after marching with thousands of supporters to a rally in Kampala. He was released soon afterwards, a party spokesperson said.
Police said Besigye was held because he did not stick to an authorised route, and his diversion would disrupt businesses.
"Police can confirm one person died during the confusion today," Kampala police spokesman Patrick Onyango told the AFP news agency, without giving further details.
"Coleen Nantongo, an FDC parliamentary candidate for Kampala Central, said the unrest cast a dark cloud over the upcoming polls.
"Uganda is doomed," she said. "We cannot have a fair election when this is what the police do. Whenever there are elections they tear-gas us and arrest us, so how can we be expected to have a fair competition?"
Earlier in the day, Besigye, who has lost three disputed elections against long-running president Yoweri Museveni, was also briefly detained for leading a procession of supporters in Kampala.
Opposition supporter James Magara, 40, said that the arrests raised doubts that the election would be free and fair.
"There is no democracy in Uganda, and now the whole world will see it. Museveni does not want to lose so he sends the police after us, but this time we will not accept it. We will not let him continue like this," he told Al Jazeera."
In October 2015, Besigye was placed under what the police called "preventive arrest" after a series of protests over high fuel prices. Museveni has been in power since 1986.
Allegations of voter suppression, curbing of free speech, censorship of press, persecution of poltical opponents are common in the Museveni 30 year dictatorial type reign, raising questions about Uganda's human rights record and its so called democracy.
Warren Kizza Besigye Kifefe, commonly known as Kizza Besigye, is a Ugandan physician, politician and former military officer, in the Uganda People's Defence Force. Party: Forum for Democratic Change. Born April 22, 1956 (age 59), Rukungiri District, Uganda, and is married to Winnie Byanyima