Uganda police arrest Besigye, Mao

FDC spokesman  Wafula Oguttu was arrested Monday for attempting to lead a walk to work protest. Photo by Joseph Kiggunddu

Several opposition politicians were arrested across Kampala city early on Monday, Uganda Police spokeswoman Judith Nabakooba confirms.

The politicians, who include FDC President Dr. Kizza Besigye and DP President Norbert Mao were arrested for attempting to lead a walk to work protest against the rising fuel prices and cost of living in the country. Dr. Kizza Besigye is presently being held at Kasangati Police post while Norbert Mao is held at Jinja road Police station.

Other politicians detained in the mid-morning arrests include MP for Budadiri West and chairman in the Ugandan Parliament for Public Accounts Committee Mr. Nandala Mafabi, FDC spokesman  and MP elect Bukooli Central, Bugiri District  Wafula Oguttu, FDC treasurer and MP elect Rukiga county Jack Sabiti and MP for Bugweri constituency Abdu Katuntu, among others. Mafabi, Oguttu, Sabiti and Katuntu are being held at Jinja road police station. 

Ms Nabakooba confirmed Dr. Besigye’s arrest. She explained that, "He was arrested after blocking a road leading into Kampala," she said. "Police tried to move him on but he resisted. Teargas was used to disperse a rowdy crowd that was throwing stones."

Besigye, who was President Yoweri Museveni's main challenger in February 18 presidential elections he claims were rigged, had called for a "walk-to-work" demonstration against rising fuel and other prices.

The Uganda police has banned demonstrations and warned last week that any attempt to stage street protests would be "dealt with firmly".

"I would like to caution any persons organising these illegal activities that as custodians of the public interest, the police shall not allow them to take place," police chief Kale Kayihura said in a statement on Friday.

Alice Alaso, the secretary general of Besigye's Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party, said Besigye was arrested while taking part in the multi-party opposition demonstration against the rising cost of living.

She condemned the force used by the police to arrest Besigye as "excessive".

"You cannot stop ordinary Ugandans from just walking along the road," she said outside the police station in Kasangati where Besigye was being held.

Besigye, 54, had warned before the February polls that Uganda was ripe for an Egypt-style revolt but stopped short of calling for mass street protests to challenge the results, which saw Museveni re-elected with a landslide.

"We are not going to be intimidated. People have a cause to hold a peaceful demonstration. We are not going to be deterred," Besigye told AFP on Friday.