Uganda frees two presidential challengers after arrests, as Museveni seeks to extend 30-year rule

Museveni has now been president longer than all seven previous Ugandan leaders before him combined.

POLICE released two Ugandan presidential challengers after they were arrested for planning campaign rallies without permission.

The opposition leaders, ex-prime minister Amama Mbabazi and Kizza Besigye, a leader of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party, are both hoping to challenge veteran President Yoweri Museveni in elections next year.

Police spokesman Fred Enanga told the state-run New Vision newspaper that “the two politicians recorded statements and had since been released unconditionally.”

Police have made several warnings against holding public rallies without permission, with organisers required to submit details to the police at least three days before any meetings.

Museveni, who has led the east African nation since 1986, has been endorsed by the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) to represent it in next year’s election. He has now been president longer than all seven previous leaders before him combined.

But Mbabazi, a former close ally of the president, announced last month he would challenge the 71-year-old incumbent for the nomination.

The move sparked criticism from the government, which pointed out that many of the failings of which Mbabazi accuses Museveni—such as corruption and a lack of jobs—happened when he was the party’s secretary general.

Besigye is a three-time presidential election challenger and a former personal doctor to Museveni.

After he lost elections in 2011, Besigye led repeated anti-government protests, at which he was regularly arrested and held for a few hours before being released.

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