Noisy city as hoot campaign begins

Tuesday May 24 2011

HOOT TIME: Dr Besigye (L) blows a vuvuzela to

HOOT TIME: Dr Besigye (L) blows a vuvuzela to officially launch the hoot campaign in Kampala yesterday. PHOTO BY ISAAC KASAMANI 

By Emmanuel Mulondo

Kampala

Dr Kizza Besigye yesterday launched the ride-drive-and-hoot campaign by blowing a vuvuzela and driving through parts of the city honking his car horn. The campaign is a supplementary effort of the walk-to-work protests, called by a pressure group to demand that the government responds to the high commodity prices.

Dr Besigye, who was only able to leave his Kasangati home at about 10am after a siege by the police, launched the new campaign at the High Court and thereafter at the Interparty Cooperation (IPC) offices on Katonga Road.

Earlier, Dr Besigye had only managed to leave his home after the police extracted assurance from him that he would not alight from his car on the way to “cause crowds.” The FDC leader at exactly 5pm drove his car from near Sheraton Hotel down.

to City Square as he honked loudly and continuously.
He then drove through Kampala Road, connected to Jinja Road before heading back to Katonga Road to the offices of the Inter-Party Cooperation, where he had abandoned a meeting to go on the hooting spree.
The police, who had been trailing him, tried to intercept him at City Square but Dr Besigye had already driven past.

Yesterday marked the start of the hoot campaign. Unlike in the upper section of the central business district where the response was mute, 5pm in downtown Kampala erupted into noise as shopkeepers blew vuvuzelas while others banged objects in support of the campaign. Mr Mathias Mpuuga, the chairman of the Activists for Change, a pressure group spearheading the campaign, said the initiative had been successful. “The only problem we had is the up-class Kampala residents. You know those are always risk-averse,” he said.

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Police last night said they had noted number plates of all those involved in the hooting protest and would take action soon. The police had in the in the morning taken positions along all roads leading to Dr Besigye’s home from Kasangati suburb, blocking and interrogating people who headed to his home.

Siege on Besigye’s home
Four police pick-up vehicles kept camp along the road to Besigye’s home. An ambulance, a mobile detention van and a tow truck were also at the ready. The journalists blocked later sneaked to the doctor’s home using shortcuts. After about two hours of waiting and chatting with the doctor’s aides, Dr Besigye emerged from his house. “I am not prepared to be forced to drive back home,” Dr Besigye told journalists at about 10am before boarding his vehicle and driving out.

Senior police officers stopped him, questioning him about where he was headed. Dr Besigye told them he was going to Kampala before the police implored him not to get out of his vehicle and cause “unnecessary excitement.” He agreed. He then drove off with a number of police vehicles ahead and behind his car. He drove through Kaleerwe, Mulago up to Katonga Road where police followed, parking their vehicles at both ends of Katonga Road.

This is the second time Dr Besigye has managed to drive to Kampala under tight surveillance from security, who insist he is out to disrupt public order.

Additional reporting by Flavia Lanyero

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