Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni late on Saturday explained the alleged kidnaps of people by security forces before and after the Jan. 14 presidential elections.
Museveni in a televised address said a total of 241 people were arrested by different security agencies, noting that some of the suspects were released while others are still in custody helping police to track down those on the run.
The president’s address followed a public uproar with reports of plain-clothed security operatives abducting people on streets.
Museveni said the arrests followed intents by criminal elements to disrupt the elections by causing chaos in the capital Kampala and other part of the country.
Sporadic riots broke out on Nov. 18-19 in the capital Kampala and several parts of the country following the arrest of opposition presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi on his campaign trail in eastern Uganda.
According to government, a total of 54 people were killed and several others injured by security forces as they dispersed the rioters.
Museveni said the criminality forced government to deploy some parts of the army and a commando unit to help police keep law and order.
“In case of Kampala, we also brought a commando unit which had distinguished itself in fighting in Somalia and which had destroyed ADF (Allied Democratic Forces),” Museveni said. Uganda has troops deployed in Somalia on an African peacekeeping mission. ADF is a Ugandan rebel group holed up in the jungles of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo,” he said.
“They (security forces) killed a few who tried to attack them and arrested scores of those law breakers,” Museveni said, noting that most of those arrested were in the central part of the country.
The president said security personnel who would be found for having violated the law will be held accountable. He said security forces are taught to respect human rights and where cases of abuses are reported, action will be taken.
Museveni ordered security forces to make readily available information of those who have been arrested and are still in custody.
“The security people should make this information available to the public so that this talk of disappearance is answered,” he said.
Museveni lashed out at the proposal of the European Union’s parliament to sanction some government officials over what it described as not free and fair Jan. 14 presidential elections.
Museveni won the elections with 58.64 percent.
The president cautioned Ugandans not to get excited over foreign interference, noting that most of it ends up being tragic, citing the support some foreign governments gave to military strongman Idi Amin who had carried out a coup in 1971.
Museveni said by 1972, the foreigners who had backed Amin started siding with people who were fighting him.
“Idi Amin killed a lot of people. By 1972, the foreigners who had back Idi Amin were now with the people fighting him after seeing he was a terrible fellow,” Museveni said.
“Therefore when you hear some of the external people interfering in our affairs, ignore them, don’t be influenced by what they are saying, because they can lead to a lot of distortions,” he added. Enditem