Ugandan security services arrested a retired general and former security minister who intends challenging veteran leader Yoweri Museveni for the presidency next year, escalating a clampdown on political opponents.
Henry Tumukunde, who announced his candidacy this month, said police and the military arrived at his house on Thursday and arrested him.
“I’m told I am under arrest for treason,” he told Reuters, adding his house was being searched.
One of Africa’s longest serving leaders Museveni (75) is widely expected to stand in elections set for February 2021.
His ruling party has been rattled by the growing support of pop star-turned-legislator Bobi Wine who banks on his connection with the country’s youthful population and a love of his music to unseat the president.
Tumukunde fought alongside Museveni in the guerrilla war that brought him to power in 1986. He also served as head of national domestic intelligence.
Treason charges have been lodged against Museveni’s political opponents on a number of occasions. Kizza Besigye, who stood and lost against him four times was charged with treason on more than one occasion.
Opposition and rights activists accuse government of using security forces to intimidate political opponents, as activists are routinely jailed and opposition rallies broken up with teargas and beatings.
Officials deny targeting the opposition for political reasons.