KAMPALA: Fighting in western Uganda between supporters of rival candidates involved in last month’s national and local elections has killed 22 people and wounded 10 others in recent days, police said.
Opposition party Forum for Democratic Change accused the government of stoking violence in recent days in the area where opposition candidate Kizza Besigye had a strong showing against veteran leader Yoweri Museveni, who won the disputed Feb. 18 poll.
Police said in a statement issued late on Sunday that clashes erupted between supporters of rival candidates after local council elections in the area held on Feb. 24.
Police said 16 civilians died in clashes between the rival supporters while six more were killed when police intervened to quell the violence. A further 10 were injured, including four soldiers, and 149 houses were burned down, police said.
“We have information that criminal gangs are being incited,” police said in the statement, adding that 80 people were arrested after some youths attacked members of the security forces with machetes, knives and clubs.
“We caution those misleading the youth into engaging in reckless … attacks on the security forces and other innocent people to desist,” the statement said.
Museveni, 71, in power since 1986, was declared winner of the Feb. 18 presidential election with 60 percent of the vote against Besigye’s 35 percent. Parliamentary elections were held the same day, while local elections followed a few days later.
Besigye and other rival candidates rejected the presidential poll results, saying they had been rigged. Former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, another of the defeated candidates, has petitioned court to try to nullify the result.
Independent monitors from the European Union questioned the poll’s integrity, citing an intimidating atmosphere and saying the electoral oversight body lacked independence and transparency.
Ingrid Turinawe, a senior official in Besigye’s Forum for Democratic Change, told Reuters the violence was being orchestrated by government supporters after Besigye’s strong showing in the region.
“They (Police) are just killing innocent people, people going about their business they turn around and blame the victims,” she told Reuters.