Riots In Uganda

The chaos was reportedly spreading to Uganda’s capital Kampala.

Military ‘mamba’ vehicles were patrolling Kampala and the road to Kasangati, where the riots started. The 12-km stretch to Kasangati was littered with debris, left-overs of the roadblocks that angry residents placed on countless locations. There were also the remains of bonfires. Hundreds of policemen patrolled the area, while military policemen in Kizza Besigye’s hometown of Kasangati forced ordinary citizens to clean up the rubbish. Besigye is Uganda’s largest opposition party Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).

“We’ll protest as long as our leader Besigye wants,” says one of the protesters. Besigye was arrested and brought to an unknown location in Kampala. During his arrest he injured his hand. He had been involved in a ‘walk2work’ protest this week and was briefly detained on Monday.

“We do this to show solidarity,” Besigye told RNW on Wednesday during an interview in Kampala. “Solidarity with the suffering members of our society, who are already walking to work in their tens of thousands. They are forced to walk long distances everyday to go and work because people can no longer afford public transport.”

Uganda is experiencing an inflation of over 10 percent, while food and fuel prices have jumped even more in recent months. In February, Besigye lost a presidential vote to Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni for the third time in a row. The opposition leader already predicted chaos during his interview with RNW, yesterday. “We have been having an explosive situation in this country,” Besigye said. “Sooner or later it will explode. The basis of that is that we have a regime that lost its legitimacy to govern long time ago.”

Walk to Kampala
An upbeat Besigye welcomed a handful of journalists on Thursday morning, setting off his march towards Kampala. Within minutes, dozens of people followed the politician and just after stretching the legs for one kilometre, police stopped him. In the chaos, Besigye ended up in a ditch next to the newly built road. There was a two-hour stand-off, during which both heavily armed police as well as Besigyes’ supporters rose by the hundreds.

Soon after trucks with water cannons moved in and the crowd was dispersed by shooting in the air. Canisters of tear gas exploded all around. Pupils who walked by got sick from the gas, as did several protestors. A choking man was rushed away by a red cross ambulance. While rubber bullets and tear gas from the police were answered with stones thrown by protestors, Besigye remained in the ditch where the stand-off continued. The Besigye group used handkerchiefs to cover their mouth and eyes.

Government to blame
According to the opposition parties, the government’s overspending is the reason for Uganda’s current high inflation. They blame the government of taking money from the national reserves during the recent election campaign.

Besigye, once President Museveni’s ally and personal doctor during the war that brought the current regime to power, claims Museveni can only stay in power by the means of force. RNW