Uganda opposition politician arrested for 3rd time

AP News
Posted: Apr 18, 2011 9:51 AM
Uganda opposition politician arrested for 3rd time

Police in Uganda battled protesters for the third time in a week and again arrested the country's top opposition politician on Monday, and the Red Cross said one protester died after being tear gassed.

Police arrested Kizza Besigye and about a dozen members of parliament while trying to walk to work. Police spokeswoman Judith Nabakooba said Besigye was arrested for trying to hold a political demonstration.

Besigye was arrested twice last week while trying to walk to work to protest the high cost of gas and food. Last week violence broke out during his second attempt and he was shot in the hand by police.

Besigye took second place in Uganda's February presidential election to President Yoweri Museveni. A leader in Besigye's political party, the Forum for Democracy, said Monday's arrest was unfair.

"He has a right to walk if he wishes so," Ann Mugisha said.

A spokeswoman for Uganda's Red Cross, Catherine Ntabadde said, said one person died after being tear gassed by police. The victim fainted and people around him poured water into his mouth in an attempt to revive him, which Ntabadde said was dangerous.

She also said a six-month-old baby girl had to be taken to a hospital in critical condition after inhaling tear gas.

Protests were held in other parts of the country Monday.

The Kampala-Jinja highway, which links Kenya to Uganda and Rwanda, was blocked by protesters who piled stones on the road and hurled them at vehicles passing by. Police said more than 20 vehicles were damaged.

The deputy spokesman for police, Vincent Sekate, said authorities would continue to crack down on protesters "because what they are doing is illegal."

Armed security personnel were out in force in Kampala, Uganda's capital. But a member of parliament and a coordinator of the walk to work, Mathias Mpuuga, said the walks would continue despite the response from security forces.

"We will continue to walk to our places of work as a sign of solidarity with common Ugandans who are suffering from high fuel and food prices," said Mpuuga.

The price of maize in Uganda has risen 114 percent over the last year, according to a World Bank report released last week.

Museveni on Saturday told reporters that no one would overthrow his government "through unconstitutional means." He blamed supporters of Besigye for taking sanctuary in schools and health facilities during skirmishes with police. Last week police fired tear gas into a hospital from which protesters were throwing rocks.

The government would only allow peaceful demonstrations that first get permission from the police, Museveni said.

Museveni has held power in Uganda for 25 years but won re-election in February with a commanding 68 percent of the vote. Observers called the vote legitimate.