Police hold Besigye in his car over renewed protests
What you need to know:
- Dr Besigye argues that leaders need to be reminded that they have the duty to make interventions to help the citizenry to survive the economic shock and not to just sit and watch as the people they lead continue to suffer.
- President Museveni is expected to address the nation on the current economic situation, according to Lindah Nabusayi, the senior presidential press secretary.
Business was Thursday paralysed in Kasangati town in Wakiso District following a standoff between the police and Dr Kizza Besigye, the former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party president.
Police intercepted Besigye Thursday morning shortly after leaving his residence where he spent six days under preventive arrest to stop him from leading protests against the skyrocketing commodity prices.
Detectives successfully blocked Besigye from rallying residents to rise against the soaring commodity prices.
The four-time presidential contender, who is currently leading the pressure group dubbed the “People's Front for Transition” told journalists that he intends to spend his very last breath to wake up Ugandans to unite and force those in power to intervene and stabilize commodity prices.
Dr Besigye, who is mainly targeting the youth also launched a resistance song, which he said will be played across the country as a united voice for the oppressed. Composed by Samuel Walter Lubega Mukaaku, the lyrics of the song call upon Uganda to wake up and save themselves and the country at large.
Shortly after addressing journalists, Dr Besigye jumped in his land cruiser, whose windscreens are sealed by wire mesh and mounted with megaphones, and tried to make his way to Kampala via Kampala-Gayaza road. However, a team of police officers cut him off as they blocked his vehicle at the front and back using patrol vehicles.
They also erected barricades using spikes to stop Besigye from continuing with his planned journey. The officers dispersed pockets of residents who had lined up along the road to cheer Besigye while singing the resistance song.
Unlike the previous encounters where police would use brutal force to disperse any form of protest, this time around the officers pleaded with the residents to leave the streets and return to their respective homes.
The officers restrained themselves from using force even when the residents lit bonfires in the middle of the road. At one point, some junior officers wanted to use force but their commanders restrained them. An unidentified police commander slapped one of the Field Force Unit officers who was trying to beat up people on the roadside.
As police tried to sweet talk residents to vacate the streets, some of the residents instead asked the officers to join their efforts to compel the government to address the runaway commodity prices.
The police were puzzled for close to five hours on how to deal with Besigye who barricaded himself inside his vehicle. The officers repeatedly grabbed the microphone he was using to address the residents to try and stop him in vain as he would immediately pick another and continue with his speech.
To ensure that Besigye stops airing his message, the officers confiscated his megaphones. Later on, the officers left Besigye to stay in his car under the scorching sunshine, saying that heat will eventually force him out. However, by the time of filing this story, Besigye was still barricaded in the vehicle together with the other occupants. Earlier, Besigye challenged police for infringing on his rights and freedoms.
Although he lauded the Uganda Human Rights Commission for their intervention when they learned about his illegal detention in his own home, he challenged the commission to publicly state that the police are making illegal maneuvers.
Dr Besigye later relented and drove back to his home.
The prices of essential commodities have been on the rise since the beginning of this year affecting millions of vulnerable Ugandans who are struggling to recover from the prolonged lockdown induced by COVID-19 pandemic. The government has turned a deaf ear to numerous calls to intervene and arrest the situation.
Government officials blame the price increase on the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the raging war in Ukraine following the invasion of Russia, even as other regional governments continue to make interventions to cushion their citizens.
Dr Besigye argues that leaders need to be reminded that they have the duty to make interventions to help the citizenry to survive the economic shock and not to just sit and watch as the people they lead continue to suffer. He reiterated that the government should reduce the huge public expenditure, reclaim stolen funds from corrupt officials so as to enhance the salaries of civil servants, and give relief to schools among other affected segments of society.
President Museveni is expected to address the nation on the current economic situation, according to Lindah Nabusayi, the senior presidential press secretary. However, in his previous address, President Museveni advised Ugandans to stop complaining about the high commodity prices and resort to the cheaper alternatives like eating cassava they can’t afford bread which stirred emotions and public debate in the country.