Uganda rocked by Libyan style protests
By Hassan Isilow
KAMPALA-Several Ugandan opposition leaders were arrested on Thursday for leading peaceful demonstrations code named, ‘‘walk to work demonstrations’’, which were against high commodity prices.
The country’s main opposition leader, Dr. Kizza Besigye, was shot on the arm by military police during the protests.
A Journalist in Kampala told Africawitness, that a female protestor had been shot dead by police during the skirmishes.
‘‘The situation in Uganda is unusually tense. As I speak to you, there are protests going on in six major Towns, while, several demonstrators have also been arrested by the police’’ the Journalist revealed.
This is the second day of clashes between Ugandan security forces and protestors. On Monday, opposition leaders instructed citizens to walk to work in protest of increasing fuel and food prices, but Government warned that it would arrest whoever participates in such demonstrations.
On Monday, opposition leader, Dr. Kizza Besigye and his Democratic Party (DP) counterpart, Norbert Mao, were arrested and taken to court for leading the ‘walk to work demonstrations’, but were latter realised on bail. Several other opposition members of parliament were also arrested and later bailed.
However, on Thursday, the same opposition leaders mobilised thousands of Ugandans into a nationwide demonstration, which paralysed business in the landlocked East African nation.
Protestors are demanding that Government intervenes in controlling prices of commodities. ‘‘We want Government to control commodity prices from hiking all the time. We can not afford to even buy food, because prices are skyrocketing all the time. I no longer drive my car to work, becouse fuel prices have increased beyond expectation’’ Julius Ogwang, a Ugandan lawyer told Africawitness in a telephone interview.
He wonders if walking to work has become a crime in Uganda. ‘‘Walking to work is not a crime. If you can not afford bus fare, or fuel for your car, the only option is to walk, so I don’t know why is the ugandan police arresting people for walking to work’’ the lawyer wonders.
‘‘ I protested today because I was irked by Minister Kabakumba Masiko’s statement that Government won’t control food prices, because Uganda is not a welfare state’’ Muhammad Mangeni, a youth activist in Uganda told Africawitness, in a face book interview.
Other protestors are demanding that the Ugandan president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni resigns because he has been in power for more than 25 years. They also claim that the February elections which saw Museveni win by a 68% were not free and fair.
‘‘The past general elections were fraudulent and basing on several evidence we want president Museveni to resign or else we shall use other means to get him out of office’’ a Ugandan source told Africawitness on condition of anonymity.
President Museveni has been Uganda’s leader since 1986. He descended to power after waging a guerrilla war that dislodged the 1985 military government of General Tito Okello. Uganda has had a terrible history of tyrannical rulers; most notably among them was the Late Idi Amin Dada, who expelled thousands of Asians from Uganda and confiscated their property.
However, when president Museveni came to power in 1986, he welcomed back all the deposed Asians and tried to stabilise the country’s economy, but his overstay in power still remains a subject of debate.