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Police deploy in Entebbe ahead of Besigye return

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Dr Besigye and his wife Winnie before addressing the press in Nairobi on Saturday.

Dr Besigye and his wife Winnie before addressing the press in Nairobi on Saturday. PHOTO BY WILLIAM OERI 

By Monitor Team

Posted  Tuesday, May 10  2011 at  00:00
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Security agencies have beefed up safety measures on the Kampala-Entebbe highway ahead of FDC leader Kizza Besigye’s return tomorrow from Nairobi, Kenya, fearing that crowds of his supporters may present a problem along the route.

The party’s vice president for eastern Uganda, Ms Salaam Musumba, told journalists at the party headquarters in Najjanankumbi, Kampala, that they expect Dr Besigye to arrive on a Kenya Airways 9am flight.
“On the morning of Wednesday, we shall be welcoming back our president, Dr Kizza Besigye, from hospital. He has been discharged from Nairobi Hospital from where he was successfully treated for multiple ailments following the brutal attack by security agents,” Ms Musumba said yesterday.

Arrival of dignitaries
The opposition leader’s arrival coincides with the expected entry into the country of heads of state who have been invited to attend the swearing-in ceremony of President Museveni slated for Thursday. For this reason, the police have indicated they will not allow opposition supporters to throng the highway.
Dr Besigye was discharged from the hospital on Friday and, according to Ms Musumba, is in good spirits though still weak.

His return comes a day to a month since Activists for Change (A4C), a pressure group, declared the walk-to-work campaign to identify with Ugandans suffering under the weight of increasing commodity prices due to high fuel costs.

The campaign has, however, met stiff resistance from the police and the government which accuses the political opposition of manipulating the rising cost of living in an alleged bid to achieve regime change through stirring mass uprisings.

Dr Besigye and his counterparts deny the charge. They have, however, all rejected the results of the February 18 election which returned Mr Museveni to power, saying the electoral process was a sham and vowed not to recongise the new government.

The international community, human rights groups, civil society and religious leaders have condemned the excessive use of force by the police. But with several invited dignitaries set to arrive in the country, Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Ibin Ssenkumbi said Entebbe Road will be closed to public demonstrations.

“They should work with police. We have already come up with the traffic plan for the dignitaries along that route who will attend the swearing-in ceremony of President Museveni, anybody who wants to use Entebbe Road while having big crowds should first notify police or else they will be blocked,” Mr Ssenkumbi said.

Defiance
To this, Ms Musumba insisted the law does not require that they get permission from the police in order to welcome Dr Besigye back. Yesterday, heavily armed police and soldiers patrolled Entebbe Road.
At the same time, there were reports that the army, wary of recent terror warnings, has also moved some of its units previously based in the northeastern Moroto District to Kampala and its environs.

Army spokesman, Lt. Col. Felix Kulayigye told the Daily Monitor that the deployment is intended to avert any possible melee as Dr Besigye jets into the country and also “instill confidence in our people.” But his counterpart for the Special Forces Group, Capt. Edison Kwesiga, said the troop movements were part of “a normal routine redeployment.”

At Entebbe International Airport, all people entering the premises are being subjected to thorough checks. Motorists are being asked to disembark from their cars at the road toll for this purpose.

Reported by Anthony Wesaka, Martin Ssebuyira & Steven Ariong in Kampala/Entebbe /Moroto.