Uganda’s Museveni Vows To Defeat Protests

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    Uganda’s Museveni vows to defeat protests

    Yesterday, 04:31 pm

    Duncan Miriri

    President Yoweri Museveni vowed Saturday to ‘defeat’ a wave of deadly protests triggered by rising food and fuel prices.

    Museveni was fielding questions from members of a Kenyan business club after giving a speech that was briefly interrupted by a man in the audience objecting to this week’s violent crackdown on protestors in Uganda.

    Two people were killed and at least 90 injured in the Ugandan capital Kampala Friday after police fired bullets and teargas at crowds protesting against the arrest of an opposition leader.

    “It won’t escalate. We are going to defeat it,” Museveni said, accusing organisers of the protests of plotting to destabilise his government through looting.

    “Their plans were to loot. To cause people to loot people’s shops so that they undermine our program of recovery and development,” he said.

    The government will investigate the deaths that occurred during the protests and will arrest police officers found to have acted unlawfully, he added.

    Friday’s events followed weeks of protests, which have the potential to unnerve investors in east Africa’s third largest economy, aimed at forcing the government to rein in soaring prices of food and fuel.

    At least seven people have been killed during the weeks of protests which have been led by Kizza Besigye, who was defeated by Museveni in a February presidential election.


    Television footage showed Besigye being beaten and drenched repeatedly with pepper spray before he was thrown into a police pickup truck Thursday. He was later released on bail and flew to Kenya for treatment of injuries sustained in the arrest.

    “Apparently it was actually that opposition leader who first sprayed pepper spray against police officers,” Museveni said.

    Asked why Besigye was being arrested for walking to work, Museveni, in power since 1986, said the opposition leader must get permission from police first.

    “There is no problem for Besigye to walk. Either to walk to work or to walk as an exercise, whatever he wants there is no problem… but we are asking him ‘please inform the police so that you agree with them where you want to walk’,” he said.

    The president had to stop briefly at the beginning of his speech when a man stood up and started to shout.

    “Mr. President, how can we as Kenyans sit here and listen to you while you have been brutalising Ugandans?” shouted the man, before he was taken away by Museveni’s security detail.

    Museveni, who was on a one-day private visit to the Kenyan capital, continued his address at a hotel just a five-minute drive from the Nairobi hospital where Besigye is being treated.

    He said the leaders of the five-nation East African Community bloc may hold a meeting to discuss food security.

    “We could have a dedicated summit. Uganda produces food easily and we are going to quadruple food production by doing a number of things including micro-irrigation,” he said.

    Uganda may use some of its earnings from impending commercial oil production to construct dams for electricity generation, Museveni said. He attacked donors for refusing to fund massive development projects for Africa in the past.

    “They are just interested in small things like teaching you how to organise elections,” he said.

    (Additional reporting by Barry Malone in Kampala; Editing by Robert Woodward)


    Uganda riots reach capital as anger against President Museveni growsImpetus for Egyptian-style uprising increases as soldiers stage Kampala crackdown after opposition leader’s arrest

    Share915 David Smith in Kampala, Friday 29 April 2011 13.55 BST Article history

    Protesters burn tyres and wood in Kampala after the riots, where army troops and police faced off against demonstrators in the capital for the first time. Photograph: Stephen Wandera/AP
    Riots have swept across the Ugandan capital, Kampala, as protesters called for an Egyptian-style uprising against their autocratic president.

    At least two people were killed and more than 100 wounded after soldiers fired live bullets and tear gas and beat demonstrators with sticks. Civilians fought back, blocking roads with burning tyres and pelting vehicles with rocks.
    The growing unrest – sparked by rising food and fuel prices – gained fresh impetus after the brutal arrest of opposition leader Kizza Besigye on Thursday.

    But President Yoweri Museveni, who was been in control for a quarter of a century, has met the protests with a show of force.

    His military police were accused of attacking

    innocent spectators on Friday. One victim could be seen lying in a pool of blood, apparently after being shot in the head at a local market.

    In the Karwerwe neighbourhood, police chased a teenager, Andrew Kibuuka, with heavy wooden sticks and rained blows on him.

    “I thought the police were going to kill me,” he said minutes later, his arm bruised and a finger bleeding. “I was telling them I’m harmless, but they just carried on. I did nothing to provoke them. They beat me because I was running away.”

    The 18-year-old added: “I’m in pain all over my body. The police are being too brutal. I think Uganda will get worse if the president does not resign.”

    A minibus, a taxi and other vehicles that tried to travel up the street were pelted with stones. Then soldiers in armoured vehicles appeared and fired tear gas to disperse the crowd, and people ran away in panic.

    Standing at a market, Robert Mayanja, who described himself as an activist, said: “What they are doing now shows that Museveni rigged the last election.

    “If you look at Uganda, why should we vote for him after 25 years? We have high prices, we have hospitals without medicine. Is there anything to vote for?”

    “We know they are going to arrest many people and put them in torture chambers. We know this regime has expired. These are the signs.”

    Eric Mbiro, a 20-year-old student, agreed: “We are tired of this government because of the price of commodities,” he said. “There is no presidency in Uganda. The president rules the country like his own home. He is a dictator. We need change.”

    But he was more sceptical about the prospects for an uprising, saying: “We will not manage to do what they did in Egypt because people here are poor. There is too much poverty in Uganda.”

    Military police fired live rounds, rubber bullets and tear gas at numerous burning barricades blocking the main road out of Kampala to the international airport in Entebbe and sprayed adjacent residential areas with bullets.

    Shell casings littered the main road, tear gas hung in the air and security forces beat local residents.

    In Ntinda, angry youths shouted and hurled stones and chunks of concrete at passing cars. On one corner, a man ran up to a council vehicle as it drove by and smashed the driver’s window with a rock, raising cheers from onlookers.

    A coded sign language is already in place. Motorists who hold two fingers aloft in a “v for victory” symbol, showing they support the rebellion, are allowed to pass unharmed, but a single raised thumb is interpreted as a pro-Museveni gesture.

    Roads were blocked by rocks, cones, debris and burning tyres. A bare-chested man lay face down on the grass, his head being bandaged by Red Cross medics.

    An eyewitness said the man had been the victim of an unprovoked attack. “The military police were making people clear the road, and this boy worked for 30 minutes,” Timothy Ssenfuma, a 35-year-old electrical engineer, said. “He said he wanted to go, but they beat him on the head and back until he collapsed. They were also beating up even women and young ladies just to clear the road.

    “They are killing innocent Ugandans who are not even involved in the uprising. We appeal to the rest of the world to help Ugandans as they have in Libya and elsewhere.”

    A teacher, who gave his name only as Nixon, claimed the security forces had launched an indiscriminate attack, saying: “The military police came and started beating up people.

    “Some had to run away and others had to fight back to defend their friends. People have terrible anger at the way they were treated.”

    The 32-year-old said he could not imagine an Egypt-like revolt in the short term. “But in the long term, I believe it can happen,” he added. “The military is still strong and many of the soldiers are unwilling to turn to the side of the people. But, in time, they might get tired of beating the people.

    “I really look forward to it. As your friends are beaten and arrested, the professionals need to come out and organise the people.”

    Red Cross official Richard Nataka said more than 100 injured people had been taken to five centres, including 78 , of whom 10 had gunshot wounds, at the Mulago Hospital.

    He said one person had died and a pickup truck brought in a second body shortly afterwards. Red Cross vehicles were arriving at the Mulago Hospital every few minutes with more casualties.

    Besigye has held five “walk to work” demonstrations against rising prices and what he calls a corrupt government. On Friday, demonstrators carried posters praising Besigye, and asked why police needed to use violence to arrest him.

    Besigye has been released on bail, but is said to be in poor health and still unable to see after pepper spray was fired into his eyes.


    KAMPALA — Human Rights Watch said on Monday Ugandan security forces shot dead at least nine unarmed people — including three in the back as they fled — during protests against soaring inflation, and called for an independent probe.

    ..Opposition politicians spearheading the “walk to work” protests have urged Ugandans to leave their cars at home on Mondays and Thursdays in solidarity with those who cannot afford fuel. The protests have sparked violence in the capital Kampala and several other towns for nearly a month.

    “Uganda’s security forces met the recent protests with live fire that killed peaceful demonstrators and even bystanders,” Maria Burnett of New York-based HRW said in a statement.
    “A prompt, effective, and independent investigation into the violence is essential. For far too long Uganda’s government has allowed a climate of impunity for serious abuses by the police and military,” the group said.

    HRW also called on the British and Irish governments to stop training the Ugandan police until an investigation is carried out. Britain and Ireland jointly fund an initiative to train the police in public order management.

    Police spokeswoman Judith Nabakobo told Reuters that an investigation was already underway.

    “A police investigation has started a long time and already people have been arrested in some places,” Nabakobo said.

    Nabakoba offered no update on an earlier official police death toll of two.

    The worst violence was on April 29, one day after the violent arrest of the country’s main opposition leader Kizza Besigye — who has been spearheading the protests.

    Besigye, defeated by President Yoweri Museveni for a third time in a February presidential poll, is free on bail and in neighboring Kenya where he has received hospital treatment for eye injuries he suffered when police drenched him with pepper spray and hauled him onto a pick-up truck.

    Officials from Besigye’s Forum for Democratic Change party (FDC) told Reuters he would return to Kampala on Wednesday morning and stage a “national prayer” rally in a stadium on the same day as an inauguration ceremony for Museveni.

    “He’s coming on Wednesday. He’s driving from the airport to his home and we haven’t had any objection to that yet,” Anne Mugisha, deputy foreign secretary of the FDC, told Reuters.

    Mugisha confirmed local reports that the government had offered to take Besigye to his Kampala home from the airport by helicopter but that the FDC had turned that offer down.

    A $1.3 million budget for Museveni’s swearing-in ceremony has also angered protestors. Seven heads of state had accepted invitations to attend, government officials said.



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