Business, Finance & Economics

Ugandan opposition leader arrested


A supporter kisses a portrait of Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye, who was arrested Monday during a "walk-to-work protest," during a rally for Besigye in Kampala, Uganda, on May 12, 2011.


Tony Karumba

Police arrested the leader of Uganda's political opposition leader near Kampala on Monday as he participated in a “walk-to-work” protest with his supporters, his party said.

Politician Kizza Besigye has been a leading figure in the marches against high prices and government corruption since the movement began in April, according to Al Jazeera. He has been arrested many times since then, merely for walking in Kampala's streets.

The protests, initially organized by a group called Activists for Change, are a show of Ugandans' discontent over the spiraling food and fuel prices. Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has ruled the country for the past 25 years, and the political opposition has accused his regime of incompetence and corruption, according to CBS.

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Anne Mugisha, deputy foreign secretary of Besigye's Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party, characterized the Monday arrest of Besigye as “an abduction,” CBS reports.

"He was taken to Kasangati police station. From there he was pushed into a vehicle, which sped away very fast. So to us it was more of an abduction than an arrest," Mugisha said.

Police said that Besigye, once an ally of Museveni, has been released and returned to his home in the Kasangati suburb, according to the Guardian.

Some protesters turned violent after hearing news of Besigye’s detention on Tuesday, aiming stones at vehicles passing by the marchers and smashing windscreens, the Guardian reports.

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In previous outbursts from the protesters, police have responded forcefully with tear gas and rubber bullets. Nine people involved in the “walk-to-work” marches have been killed so far this year.

Consumer prices in Uganda have risen by 30 percent this year, and the high inflation rate has hit ordinary people hard, according to BBC. The Bank of Uganda has blamed drought and global economic chaos for the high prices.