Ugandan police detained former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and opposition leader Kizza Besigye, both of whom planned to run for Uganda’s presidency in next year’s elections, according to police and aides of the politicians.
Mbabazi was arrested on his way to meet supporters of his stance in the upcoming 2016 elections against current President Yoweri Museveni at Mbala, a town near Kenya’s border. He was freed later in the evening, an aide said.
Journalists in the city of Njeru acquired confirmation of the arrests by police operations commander Andrew Felix Kawesi on local television station NSB.
"I am telling you ... I am the police and I have arrested him. He has to stick to what the law requires ... there's no going to Mbale. He's now under incarceration," Kawesi said.
Besigye, another possible presidential candidate, was detained Thursday morning after he left his house and was freed later in the day, Francis Mwijukye, his aide, said.
"He had just left his home this morning going to the American Embassy for a meeting with the ambassador when police intercepted him and ordered him either to return home or be arrested," Mwijukye told Reuters news agency.
"He refused to return home and was immediately arrested and taken to Nagalama Police Post," he said, referring to a neighbourhood outside Uganda’s capital Kampala.
Police spokesman Fred Enanga told the state-run New Vision newspaper that Besigye and Mbabazi "recorded statements and had since been released unconditionally."
The tight relationship Mbabazi previously enjoyed with Museveni, Uganda’s leader since 1986, has been shattered in recent years after the president accused Mbabazi of taking decisions in the ruling party without consulting him.
After Museveni sacked Mbabazi back in 2014, Mbabazi was endorsed by the ruling National Resistance Movement to represent it in the upcoming 2016 election.
Soon after, Mbabazi announced his candidacy in the upcoming elections, sparking criticism from the government.