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Ugandan presidential candidate arrested while campaigning

Published:Tuesday | February 16, 2016 | 2:00 AM
Leading opposition leader and presidential candidate Kizza Besigye, center, is grabbed by riot police after attempting to walk with his supporters along a street in downtown Kampala, Uganda, yesterday.

KAMPALA, (AP):

A Ugandan opposition leader running for president was arrested yesterday while campaigning in the capital, raising tensions ahead of elections widely seen as close.

Kizza Besigye was arrested yesterday afternoon in Kampala, where he is holding his last rallies ahead of elections on Thursday.

Associated Press journalists saw police whisk away Besigye on a truck as he tried to address a crowd. Police also fired tear gas.

Besigye is a four-time presidential candidate who used to be Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's personal physician. Besigye broke ranks with Museveni 15 years ago, saying Museveni was no longer a democrat.

Recent opinion polls show Museveni in a tight race with Besigye, who is promising to run a more efficient government.

Ahead of elections, there has been a substantial rise in the number of police deployed around Kampala, which is seen as an opposition stronghold. Museveni says he will deploy the military to protect the peace during the elections and has threatened to "smash" those who threaten national security.

"The bottom line is no one can play around with the security of Uganda when I am president," the 71-year-old leader said during a televised debate with his challengers on Saturday.