New York Times: Ugandan Opposition Leader Wounded During Protest

Posted April 15, 2011 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Events ~ 3,190 views


By JOSH KRON | New York Times | KAMPALA, Uganda — A former presidential candidate and leading opposition figure was shot Thursday by the military police during a modest street demonstration over rising commodity prices here in the Ugandan capital.

Kizza Besigye, who came in second to President Yoweri Museveni in February’s presidential vote, was taken to the hospital, where he was treated for a wound on his hand after being hit by what he said was a rubber bullet.

“We found the military police; there were very many of them,” Mr. Besigye said in an interview at the hospital as crowds and riot police officers massed outside. “I kept walking toward them.”

Mr. Besigye organized the small march — the second this week in Kampala — in an effort to pressure the government into addressing soaring food and fuel prices in Uganda. He criticized the government of Mr. Museveni for what he called its “reckless expenditure,” pointing to the recent purchase of fighter jets from Russia for about $720 million.

As protests swelled to at least several hundred people on Thursday, security forces responded with an overpowering display of force, beating protesters and firing tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd. The police said more than 40 people had been injured and more than 130 arrested.

There were also widespread accounts of violence throughout the country, from the southwestern town of Masaka to Gulu in the north, the police and witnesses said.

A report on the East African news station NTV said that some tear-gas canisters were thrown directly into a primary school classroom and that several people inside had to be hospitalized.

“The situation is normalizing,” said a police spokeswoman, Judith Nabakooba, adding that a number of politicians had been involved and were arrested. “It’s not serious.”

A spokesman for the military denied that Mr. Besigye had been injured but acknowledged that rubber bullets were shot into demonstrating crowds.

Mr. Besigye was arrested on Monday along with another former presidential candidate during a demonstration that drew a smattering of participants but a strong response from the police, who fired tear gas. Mr. Besigye was charged with inciting violence and released on bail Monday.

On Thursday, Mr. Besigye decided to march again, leaving his home in Kasangati, outside Kampala, at 6:30 in the morning.

Soon, he said, the police converged around him and the few associates who were demonstrating with them. Mr. Besigye said that the police forced him off the road and that he found shelter in a nearby ditch, which the police then filled with water before dragging him out.

When the police moved away to tend to demonstrators in another part of town, Mr. Besigye said, he continued on his march, until he was shot by the military police.

Mr. Besigye said that there was growing popular discontent with the government, and that protests would continue.

“Our people are getting also more assertive,” Mr. Besigye said, “more bold, less intimidated by a regime’s show of power.”

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Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


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