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Africa
Protests over arrest of Ugandan politician
Opposition leader Kizza Besigye held yet again for marching in a fourth round of protests against high prices.
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2011 08:42

Ugandan police have used teargas to disperse hundreds of protesters demonstrating against the arrest of the country's main opposition leader and a rise in the price of food and fuel.

Kizza Besigye was detained on Thursday after being arrested and charged in court over marching in a fourth round of protests against high prices.

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Police fired tear gas cannisters and stones were hurled back at them in a brief clash during which Besigye was bundled into a police van.

Besigye stood against Yoweri Museveni, the Ugandan president, in polls in February and lost.

"He was thrown in a van and taken away," Sam Mugumya, one of Besigye's aides, said. "They got him when we were in disarray."

Besigye was initially held at Wandegeya police station and then transferred to Nabweru court, Alice Alaso,
secretary-general of Besigye's Forum for Democratic Change party, said.

Anti-riot police arrested at least one other protester for throwing stones, beating him with batons as they loaded him on the back of a pick-up vehicle.

Besigye was briefly detained on Monday and last week in similar circumstances.

Separately, two police officers and a child were killed when the protests spread for the second time to Masaka town in southwest Uganda, where police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds chanting against high food and fuel prices.

"Police came in to break up the crowds and we had to use tear gas ... four people have been injured and we also had a five-year-old kid who was hit by stray bullets and died," Noah Serunjoji, the police spokesman in Masaka, said.

A senior police source later told Reuters news agency two officers who were stoned by the mob later died in hospital.

Amnesty urges end to violence

Protests against rising prices and a crackdown on the opposition have rocked Uganda [File: Reuters]

Amnesty International urged the Ugandan government on Thursday to immediately end the excessive use of force against protestors after police fired live rounds at crowds of protesters in different parts of the country.

Five people have been killed in Uganda since the protests, sparked by a rise in fuel prices and the cost of living, began on 11 April.

“The police have a duty to protect themselves and uphold the law, but it is completely unacceptable to fire live ammunition at peaceful protesters,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Africa Deputy Director.

“They must now investigate these deaths immediately in a thorough, independent and effective manner.”

Museveni, in power since 1986, won the February election with nearly 70 per cent of the vote. Besigye was second.

Since Museveni won that vote, he has warned that Besigye would not be allowed to lead any demonstrations.

Uganda's consumer price index jumped to 11.1 percent in March and is expected to keep rising in coming months - in line with inflation rates across east Africa, including in Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda.

Museveni blames drought for pushing up food costs and sky-high global oil prices for the increase in local fuel costs for Uganda's double-digit inflation rate.

Source:
Al Jazeera, agencies
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