Scores of people went missing in pre-election violence, covert security operations in East African country
Ugandan opposition politician Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine, Monday released a list of at least 243 people he claims were abducted by the government.
On Twitter, Wine said his team has hundreds of other names that are still being verified before they can be published.
The runup to the disputed January 2021 general election was marked by a crackdown on government critics and reports of covert security operations, in which scores of people went missing after armed groups reportedly picked them up.
The election was marred by bloodshed, and at least 54 people were shot dead in November over two days of street protests following Wine's arrest.
In a televised speech Saturday, President Yoweri Museveni said that security agencies are responsible for the people reported missing, calling them "terrorists" who were planning anarchy in the country.
He said the missing people were arrested by either the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI), the intelligence wing of the Uganda Peoples' Defense Forces (UPDF), or by the commando units.
"Their names should be made public so that this talk of disappearance is answered," Museveni said.
Security officials have yet to release a list of people they picked up in recent months despite Museveni's directive on Saturday.
Sources familiar with the matter in the capital Kampala said security forces could not show some suspects' identities because security commando units in detention centers tortured them.
"If they are revealed, their families or relatives will seek to see them. But security agencies cannot show the suspects in that bad condition. The government will be embarrassed and condemned," an anonymous source told the Ugandan Daily Monitor.
UPDF spokesperson Brig. Gen. Flavia Byekwaso declined to comment on the torture claims.
Shafik Kalungi, 19, a victim of the alleged abduction, Monday told the media in Masaka, central Uganda, that he was detained for two weeks before being dumped.
"They hit me with a gun butt on the shoulder and told me not to resist the kidnap else it would get worse. They forcefully injected me on the hand with some substance I don't know, which made me lose consciousness. They would bring us rotten food and forced us to eat it," said Kalungi.
On the president's address, Wine tweeted that Museveni is simply trying to downplay the abductions and push a narrative that all is well, even when families nationwide are in tears over their missing loved ones.
The East African country's Electoral Commission on Jan. 16 announced Yoweri Museveni as the Jan. 14 elections winner. Wine, who refused to concede defeat, challenged the election results in the country's top court.
This article was published by Anadolu Agency.