Offices of Ugandan opposition lawyers robbed

Lawyers of opposition figures say that their offices were sacked by thieves and vital evidence which they seek to present to court has been stolen

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Opposition leader Kizza Besigye is escorted by Ugandan policemen to a police vehicle outside his house at the outskirts of Kampala, February 22, 2016.

Ugandan lawyers who are challenging President Yoweri Museweni’s re-election last month said on Wednesday that thieves broke into their office and stole vital evidence which they sought to present in court.

Museweni’s biggest rival Amama Mbabazi said that people who involved to break-ins were wearing police uniforms.

Fred Muwema, one of Mbabazi’s lawyers, told Reuters on Wednesday that thieves had entered his law firm’s office on Tuesday night and stole two laptops and two desktop computers containing evidence about the case.

He said the evidence included 100 sworn statements which they sought to bring to the court.

However, the Ugandan government strongly denied any involvement by government officials in the incident.

Uganda’s Electoral Comission announced on Feb. 18 President Museweni won the presidential election with 60 percent of the vote, but all of the main opposition candidates have rejected the election results, alleging fraud.

Observers from the European Union also criticised the election and said the electoral process and the country’s Electoral Comission have lost their independence. During the election all social media platforms were blocked for Ugandan users.

"Only material concerning the petition was taken," Muwema said. "This evidence was collected very painstakingly ... It's a big setback for us," he said.

A second company representing Mbabazi in this case was also broken into on Tuesday night and evidence was also taken from them, Muwema said.

International rights groups say Museweni's rule has become authoritarian. Police and security forces generally do not allow opposition activities and suppress most demonstrations with teargas and beatings, critics say.

Kizza Besigye - one of Museveni's main rivals who ranked second in the election with 35 percent of the vote - has been under virtual house arrest since election day and police are not allowing people to enter his house.

TRTWorld and agencies