Uganda's main opposition leaders Kizza Besigye and Amama Mbabazi have accused President Yoweri Museveni, who was re-elected in the heavily contested 18 February general poll, of having used "naked force" to prevent them from seeking justice through a court petition within the restrictive 10 days as required by law. Two weeks after the presidential elections, the authorities have not ceased what is becoming an almost daily pattern of arrests for the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) candidate Besigye, who has been arrested nine times in 11 days and has been placed under house arrest despite no charges being brought against him.
Go Forward candidate, Mbabazi, meanwhile, was prevented from visiting Besigye at his home over the weekend (27-28 February) after both men rejected the outcome of the polls, in which President Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled Uganda for 30 years, won a fifth term in office.
"I have not been able to visit with Kizza Besigye today. The police gave two reasons: One, for my own security. The second reason the police gave was that I was plotting something sinister with Besigye. How unfortunate that Uganda Police can think so," Mbabazi explained on 27 February.
On Tuesday (1 March), however, Mbabazi announced he had filed an election petition against Museveni and the Uganda Electoral Commission in the Supreme Court of Uganda (See below).
Muntu: Democratic processes "hijacked" by army and police
Describing a country "under siege by elements of the military and police" that are heavily deployed in Kampala and other parts of the country, the FDC claimed the constitutional and democratic processes had been "hijacked" by Museveni's "misuse" of the army and police.
The armed forces, the party president said in a statement on Wednesday (2 March), have "denied Besigye entry and exit from his own residence, denied him free access to his lawyers and persistently blocked him from coming to the party headquarters and therefore free access to the party leadership."
(Read more: Besigye's account of his illegal house arrest)
"All these deliberate actions severely curtailed our efforts to seek justice through a court petition within the 10 restrictive days as provided in the law," FDC party president Mugisha Muntu said, referring to the party's failure to meet the 10-day deadline to legally challenge Museveni's victory.
Lawyers representing Besigye said he could not present the motion to the court because the leader was not being allowed to leave his house by the authorities. Police have yet to charge Besigye with any crime.
"In spite of the hostile actions and the deliberate frustration of our efforts to petition, we are fully committed to defending the mandate of our people as expressed in the electoral results," Muntu said. "We and other concerned citizens cannot stand by and watch the successful completion of a creeping coup d'etat that is under way against the people of Uganda."
Muntu highlighted how the forces had broken into the party headquarters several times, laid siege on the FDC's premises, harassed the party's leaders and staff and arrested over 300 party members − most of them polling agents countrywide.
FDC: establish an independent audit of the elections
Muntu urged for the establishment of an independent audit of the 2016 elections, claiming huge contradictions between results declared by Electoral Commission and what the party gathered across the country.
"We have a situation in the country where the presidential candidate who lost was declared a winner. This can only be peacefully resolved by an independent audit," Muntu said.
FDC's provisional results, for instance, put Besigye as the winner with 56.9% of votes, followed closely by incubent Museveni (40.1%), which were in stark contrast with the Commission's results that the long-time president won 60.8% of the vote, while Besigye claimed 35.4%.
Earlier, Bishop David Zac Niringiye, who belongs to the Church of Uganda, alleged: "The election has been badly rigged by Museveni," adding that the results of the presidential elections released by the Electoral Commission "do not represent the will of the people of Uganda."
In his statement, Muntu also called for an immediate removal of police, army and all other security forces from Besigye's home and from the FDC party headquarters.