Uganda’s main opposition leader was arrested and charged with murder, police said on Friday, after they broke up a rally organized to protest moves to extend President Yoweri Museveni’s rule.
Kizza Besigye, who has contested and lost four elections against long-time leader Museveni, was detained on Thursday.
Police blamed Besigye for the deaths of two protesters during Wednesday’s rally, in which officers fired bullets and teargas during clashes with government opponents.
“Besigye and his colleagues led these youths who stoned police and caused deaths,” police spokesman Denis Namuwoza told Reuters.
Wednesday’s clash in Rukungiri near the Rwandan border was one of several violent anti-Museveni protests that have spread across Uganda since the president last week for the first time openly expressed support for proposed legislation aimed at allowing him to stay in power.
In office for more than three decades, 73-year-old Museveni would be barred from running again in the next election in 2021 by a law that caps the age of presidential candidates at 75.
The proposed legislation would remove that age ceiling.
Besigye, Museveni’s former physician during the guerrilla struggle that brought him to power in 1986, has claimed the four elections the pair contested were all rigged – something Museveni has denied.
The president has been a staunch western ally widely seen as an anchor of stability in East Africa’s often volatile Great Lakes region.