Uganda’s former prime minister, one of the frontrunners in a presidential election next month, has accused incumbent President Yoweri Museveni of using killings and torture to curb support for the opposition.
Museveni, 71, has ruled Uganda, a prospective crude oil producer and Africa’s largest coffee exporter, for nearly 30 years and is seeking another five-year term.
Rights groups have long accused his government of using illegal arrests, beatings and other forms of torture by security personnel to intimidate opposition supporters.
Amama Mbabazi, who is running as an independent, cited nine cases of his supporters who have been either “assaulted, arrested, ‘disappeared’ and even killed.”
“As the pressure of the campaigns is mounting, so are
the continual attempts to intimidate and subdue my support base,” he said in a statement.
Mbabazi and long-time opposition figure Kizza Besigye have emerged as the only significant opponents to Museveni among the eight candidates.
Analysts say Museveni, who has also been accused in the past of using state funds to boost his electoral chances, is likely to win although the election is seen as his toughest yet.
In the statement, Mbabazi named nine supporters, including Agnes Tumwebaze who was killed and her body dumped in a swamp, as victims of violence.
The house of another supporter, Isaac Okwii, was burned down while his 4-year old son slept. The child died in the fire.
Police denied claims of involvement in attacks.
“We’re ready to investigate every alleged case of violence but the people who allege don’t cooperate with us,” said police spokesman Fred Enanga.
On Thursday, reports emerged in social media that Christopher Aine, a security aide to Mbabazi, had been killed.
Aine disappeared in mid December shortly after police said he was wanted for questioning in regard to allegations of leading a mob that assaulted supporters of Museveni earlier in the month.
The Mbabazi campaign told Reuters that Aine’s family had identified a body shown in the social media reports as his.
“These cruel acts tantamount to gross human rights abuse. We have documented them and will pursue redress,” Mbabazi’s statement said.
Enanga said police believed whoever posted the images wanted to tarnish their reputation and Aine was “alive and in hiding”.