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Africa
Ugandan opposition leader returns home
Kizza Besigye returns to Uganda, 24 hours after he was barred from boarding flight ahead of presidential inauguration.
Last Modified: 12 May 2011 06:59
Uganda opposition leader Kizza Besigye was turned away from his flight at Nairobi's airport [Reuters]

Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye has returned home, a day after he was barred from boarding a flight from Kenya, and hours before President Yoweri Museveni was due to be sworn into a fourth term.

The Reuters news agency said Besigye left Nairobi on Thursday, after receiving medical treatment for injuries inflicted on him by police during a demonstration last month in Kampala, Uganda's capital.

Anne Mugisha, a leading official in Besigye's party, said Kenya Airways was told by Ugandan state security on Wednesday "that if Besigye was on board they would not be given landing rights".

Kenya Airways confirmed that version of events, and agencies reported that journalists at the Ugandan airport were forcibly ejected by airport security and police.

But Ugandan minister of information Kabakumba Matsiko told parliament later on Wednesday that the government did not block Besigye's return. He said former Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi was on the plane and did not want Besigye on it.

The former president was travelling to Uganda for Thursday's presidential inauguration of Yoweri Museveni.

Meanwhile, Kenyan parliament member Charles Kilonzo accused his own government of colluding with Museveni to frustrate Besigye, saying that Kenya was working with Museveni to fight the opposition in Uganda.

But Kenyan government spokesman Alfred Mutua denied the government's involvement, saying that Besigye had missed his flight and that he had been booked on a later flight.

"Besigye is free to travel within Kenya or travel from Kenya at any time or day of his choice,'' Mutua said. "He is free to take any flight of his choice. The government of Kenya is not involved in his travel plans.''

Elections challenged

Besigye pointed out the hypocrisy of his being barred from his own country, saying that it is unconstitutional.

"Every Ugandan has the right all the time to return to Uganda. So it's a contradiction that he [Museveni] wants to swear by that constitution tomorrow which he is violating today,'' Besigye said on Wednesday.

In last February's election, Besigye, 55, won 26 per cent of the vote, while Museveni, 62, took 68 per cent according to official election results, which were challenged by the Besigye's Forum for democratic Change (FDC) for widespread fraud.

Museveni has accused the opposition of trying to spread chaos in response to its loss in the election, saying on Tuesday that he would change the law to deny bail to people accused of rioting and economic sabotage.

Besigye had been seeking treatment in Kenya for injuries he suffered from a series of demonstrations against rising food and fuel prices, which left at least five people dead.

He was first taken to hospital in Kampala at the end of April after Ugandan police smashed the windows of his car and sprayed him with tear gas in an incident caught on camera. He was then transferred to a Nairobi hospital.

Besigye told Al Jazeera at the time that he remained committed to non-violent protest.

Source:
Al Jazeera and Agencies
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