Thursday May 5 2011

Walk-to-work campaign continues

Opposition politicians walk to Nakasongola Prison to visit DP leader Norbert Mao last week before he was freed on bail.

Opposition politicians walk to Nakasongola Prison to visit DP leader Norbert Mao last week before he was freed on bail. FILE PHOTO  

By Gerald Bareebe

Opposition leaders yesterday said they will today continue with the Walk-to-Work protests over the spiraling cost of living in Uganda.
Mr Matthias Mpuuga, the national coordinator of Activists for Change (A4C), said, “definitely we shall walk tomorrow (today)”.

“Our initial plan was to donate blood but Red Cross informed us that they have enough blood to take them for a month. We have decided to walk today and donate blood at the end of the month to help victims of police brutality,” he said.

The walk-to-work campaign, organised by A4C, has been marked by violent clashes between protesters and the police since they began on April 11. Several opposition politicians, including FDC leader Kizza Besigye and DP president Norbert Mao have been arrested over the protests.

Dr Besigye, whose brutal capture sparked off deadly riots last Friday which claimed the lives of five people, is currently undergoing treatment in Nairobi Hospital for injuries sustained in the attack on him by security agents.

FDC deputy president for Eastern Uganda Salaam Musumba told Daily Monitor yesterday that several party officials will take part in today’s protests.

“We shall walk tomorrow as usual,” Ms Musumba said, adding, “Our only hope is that this brutal police force allows Ugandans the space to exercise their rights.”

The opposition campaign was yesterday boosted by the arrival of former Army Commander Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu, who has been out of the country for the last three weeks.

However, it was not clear if Maj. Gen. Muntu will take part in today’s protests, though he spent most of yesterday in a series of meetings with FDC officials.

Ms Musumba said; “We are just from a meeting and all of us will walk. We are not operating under FDC. We are now all members of Activists for Change.”

In an Interview with Sunday Monitor last week, Maj. Gen Muntu asked members of the civil society and those within the NRM party to join hands with the opposition to ensure that political reforms take place in Uganda.

“I am not surprised by the violence of the Museveni regime because they are operating out of fear. My suspicion is that the situation will get worse before it gets better,” Maj. Gen. Muntu said.

“However, all of us as leaders – not only in the opposition parties but also in the civil society and even those in the NRM who want to see reforms carried out for the good of the country – need to be psychologically prepared for the long haul. Freedom and democracy are not issues that we can negotiate. They are our right and we must continue to struggle to achieve them.”

Mr Mpuuga said he has been informed that Mr Mao will join today’s protest. “Most of our leaders will walk today,” Mr Mpuuga said.
“I have been told that Mao will walk and all other DP leaders and [Makindye West MP - Jeema] Hussein Kyanjo called me to confirm that he is walking tomorrow. Walking is voluntary.”