Tuesday November 1 2011

Besigye held as police change tactics

Besigye held as police change tactics

Supporters of Dr Besigye swarm the FDC leader after police at Kasangati released him from custody. Photo by Isaac Kasamani 


Forum for Democratic Change leader Kizza Besigye was last evening released from a day-long police detention, after being arrested earlier in the morning for the eighth time in six months, as he attempted to walk to his Najjanankumbi office.

Dr Besigye was detained in the office of the OC for Kasangati police station for 9 hours, recorded a statement, but released without charge after the police said, he and the other two “were only cautioned”.

Speaking at the Kasangati police post, Metropolitan Police Chief Andrew Kaweesi said no charges would be preferred against Dr Besigye. In what appears like outlawing the opposition leader from walking, Mr Kaweesi said the police, will continue to arrest Dr Besigye, whenever he tries to leave his Kasangati home on foot “until such a time when he will be considered not a threat to public peace”.

Mr Kaweesi vowed to have Dr Besigye re-arrested if he attempts to walk today, but the FDC leader said last evening after his release, that he would be walking, because there is no law that stops him from doing so.

“I am in good health and high spirits. I will continue to walk to my office tomorrow no matter what they do,” Dr Besigye told this newspaper shortly after which he drove to the city centre for the first time in two weeks.
Police wants the opposition leader to drive to office in his car.

“We are following the magistrate’s advice (in last week’s ruling) and kept him at the police station which is a gazzetted detention facility,” said Police spokesperson Judith Nabakoba.

A magistrate ruled last week that the police action of confining the opposition politician to his home in Kasangati, Wakiso, for days without being formally charged in court was “illegal”.

Yesterday, at 8.07am Dr Besigye and his entourage left his home but were shortly intercepted by security personnel. He was ordered to return to his home.

“I don’t want to see you on foot. You can only leave your home inside your vehicle,” ASP Sam Omala, the Operations Commander Kampala Metropolitan North, told Dr. Besigye. “We will arrest you if you refuse to comply,” Kira Road DPC James Akiiki Ruhweza added.

Having refused to comply, DPC Ruhweza placed Dr Besigye and two of his aides under arrest, swiftly ushering them into a police van. Drama ensued when the police van driver sped towards Dr Besigye’s gate, only to suddenly turn away towards Kasangati trading centre. Journalists and Kasangati residents gave chase, ending at the Kasangati police post.

Wild goose chase
In a bid to prevent journalists from accessing the station, riot police cocked their guns at journalists, prompting a confrontation between riot police and journalists. Moments later, the police van that had transported Dr Besigye speeded out of the Kasangati police station, prompting a high speed chase as journalists tried to find out where Dr Besigye was being taken.

It was, however, a wild goose chase as Dr Besigye had not been removed from the police post. For close to two hours journalists and opposition officials searched police stations within Kampala in vain and returned to Kasangati. Opposition MPs Winfred Kiiza (Kasese), Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda (Kyadondo East), Salaam Musumba and Nabilah Sempala (Kampala ), among other opposition politicians, also rushed to Kasangati only to be barred from seeing Dr Besigye.
Another confrontation erupted between ASP Omala and the MPs who insisted on seeing the FDC leader.

Police trucks blocked the entrance to the police post, with riot police heavily deployed in and around the station. Youths shouted FDC slogans and momentarily blocked traffic on the Kasangati-Gayaza highway.

It was not until Leader of Opposition Nandala Mafabi arrived at the police station the opposition MPs were allowed to access the police station. Dr Besigye was released at 5.18pm.