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Uganda: Arrests of supporters of Dr. Kizza Besigye, especially in 2001; whether anyone or any group was particularly targeted

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 25 November 2002
Citation / Document Symbol UGA39850.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Uganda: Arrests of supporters of Dr. Kizza Besigye, especially in 2001; whether anyone or any group was particularly targeted, 25 November 2002, UGA39850.E, available at: [accessed 1 June 2023]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Dr. Kizza Besigye ran for president of Uganda in the March 2001 election and came second to incumbent president, Yoweri Museveni, with 27.8 per cent of the vote (Africa Confidential 6 Apr. 2001). During the run-up to the election, reports of the arrest, assault and killing of Dr. Besigye's supporters were found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate (ibid.; East African 16 Sept. 2002; Kampala1 Netcom 24 Feb. 2001; ibid. 17 Feb. 2001; ibid. 4 Mar. 2001).

A parliamentary committee of the Ugandan government investigated reports of violence during the presidential and legislative elections that were held between 2001 and 2002 and concluded that the "violence experienced in elections include[d] physical assault and shooting, intimidation, abduction and detention of voters" and that 17 people were killed and 408 arrests were made (East African 16 Sept. 2002). The committee also reported that the Kalangala Action Plan, a paramilitary group (Monitor 10 Sept. 2002) "'under the command of Maj. Kakooza Mutale, was noted for terrorising and intimidating Col. Kizza Besigye's and opposition parliamentary candidates' supporters'" (ibid. 3 Oct. 2002).

The following reports of the arrests of Dr. Kizza Besigye's supporters were found among the sources consulted. Kampala1 Netcom reported that Major Rabwoni Okwir, former head of Besigye's National Youth Desk and Western youth member of parliament, was arrested by Military Intelligence "'for his own safety'" (Kampala1 Netcom 24 Feb. 2001). Okwir later claimed that he had been "tortured [while] in detention" (4 Mar. 2001). The same news source also reported that Hajji Ramathan Muwonge of Makindye, a supporter of Dr. Besigye, was "abducted by armed men and detained at Mbuya Military Barracks" (ibid. 24 Feb. 2001). Kampala1 Netcom also reported that Dr. Besigye's campaigner "Hajji Nasser Sebaggala and MP Ken Lukyamuzi were charged ... with incitement of violence," although they denied the charges (17 Feb. 2001). The same report stated that Lt. Col. Samson Mande was arrested for "jumping bail" in connection with charges relating to terrorism but was later freed by the military court which ruled that his arrest had been illegal (ibid.). Before his arrest, Mande had made a statement on video claiming that he was being "harassed" because of his support for Dr. Besigye (ibid.).

Additional information on the arrests of supporters of Dr. Kizza Besigye could not be found among the sources consulted.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Africa Confidential (AC). 6 April 2001. Vol. 42, No. 7. "Ungracious Winner."

The East African. 16 September 2002. "Uganda; Election Violence Stunts Democracy in Uganda - Report." (Africa News/NEXIS)

Kampala1 Netcom. 4 March 2001. "Kampala1 Netcom - Weekly News." [Accessed 19 Nov. 2002]

_____. 24 February 2001. "Kampala1 Netcom - Weekly News." [Accessed 19 Nov. 2002]

_____. 17 February 2001. "Kampala1 Netcom - Weekly News." [Accessed 19 Nov. 2002]

The Monitor [Kampala]. 3 October 2002. "Uganda; Committee on Violence Failed Its Homework." (Africa News/NEXIS)

_____. 10 September 2002. Bareebe Rukuuka. "Court Martial for Robbers is Not a Solution." [Accessed 20 Nov. 2002]

Additional Sources Consulted

Africa Confidential

African Research Bulletin

IRB Databases

Europa World Factbook (2001-2002)

Keesing's Record of World Events


Internet sites, including:

Africa Online

Amnesty International (AI)

BBC Africa

The Daily Nation

East African Standard

Human Rights Watch (HRW)

Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN)

The New Vision


World News Connection (WNC)

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Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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