Uganda protesters make racket for opposition

AP News
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Posted: May 23, 2011 2:04 PM
Uganda protesters make racket for opposition

Protesters in Uganda on Monday honked their horns, banged together pots and pans and generally made a racket to show support for recent opposition protests about high food and fuel prices.

A cacophony broke out in Kampala around 5 p.m. in response to the Activists for Change organization's call for five minutes of noise every Monday. Motorcyclists and drivers honked as market vendors banged together metal implements and women hit pots and pans.

The noise follows a series of "walk to work" marches led by opposition leader Kizza Besigye to protest government corruption and rising food and fuel costs. The marches have sparked violence between police and protesters. Human Rights Watch says police have killed nine people during the marches. Those protests have flagged recently as Besigye says he's under house arrest.

President Yoweri Museveni, who came to power in 1986, has said repeatedly he will not resign over the protests. Besigye challenged Museveni in February elections and came in second place. He said the poll was falsified, and that both he and Museveni got just under 50 percent of the vote.

Kampala police spokesman Ibin Ssenkumbi said several people have been arrested for making noise on Monday. He could not say how many.

"What they have been doing is illegal and disturbs peace of others," he said. "We cannot accept it."

Anne Mugisha, a top leader in Besigye's political party, said the party considered the "hooting" _ or car-horn honking _ a success, as did protesters.

"I am happy because we have hooted and made a lot of noise to make Museveni and his officials wake up and solve our problems," said protester Ambrose Kisati, who said he honked his horn for 5 minutes. "We want them to work on the high prices of fuel and food so that they come down."

Uganda has seen sharp spikes in food and fuel prices the last several months, making car or bus travel unaffordable for many. Anger over the increases has fueled Besigye's protests, and security forces have clashed with protesters around the country.

The marches have been the most serious anti-government protests in sub-Saharan Africa this year.

Besigye used to be Museveni's former personal physician, but broke away from the president over what he viewed as problems within government.