Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye was stopped in Kenya from boarding a flight home Wednesday morning after airline staff were told that the plane would not be allowed to land if he was on board, a Ugandan newspaper reports.
Besigye is reportedly stuck in Nairobi, Kenya after airline officials approached him as he prepared to board a Kenya Airways flight, and said they had been informed by Ugandan authorities that if Besigye was on board, the flight would not be given permission to land at Entebbe international airport, the Daily Monitor reports.
Besigye was President Yoweri Museveni's biggest opponent in February's election, which the opposition says was rigged. Museveni, who has been in power for 25 years, is to be sworn in on Thursday for his fourth term.
Besigye had been receiving medical treatment in Nairobi after being violently arrested in Uganda two weeks ago. His car was attacked during a demonstration in Kampala on April 28, and Besigye was doused in pepper spray and suffered injuries to his eyes.
Ugandan Internal Affairs Minister Kirunda Kivejinja said the government has no authority over Kenya Airways flights.
"If we managed to allow him to leave, how can we stop him from coming back? We had all the powers to stop him from going there after all," he told the Daily Monitor.
Besigye has reportedly “pitched camp” in the Kenyan government’s departure lounge at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and has demanded an official explanation from Kenya Airways.
Ugandan police used tear gas to disperse riots that sprang up after the reports that Besigye had been prevented from returning, the Associated Press reports.
In the last week, the opposition in Uganda has stepped up its campaign over high fuel prices and the soaring cost of living, leading to clashes between police and protesters. Hundreds of people have been injured in confrontations with Ugandan security forces, and at least nine people have been killed.
On Tuesday, opposition demonstrators trying to hold a banned rally in Kampala were doused in pink dye by police using special water cannons.
President Museveni said he wants to change the law to deny bail for six months to those arrested while protesting.