Uganda: Kizza Besigye arrested for 'unlawful assembly' after Kampala clashes


Opposition leader, doctor, and ex-army colonel Kizza Besigye is mobbed by his supporters in Gayaza, about 25 km away from the capital Kampala, during an "Activists for Change" (A4C) opposition rally on February 25, 2012. Besigye and his A4C members are leading a country wide rally calling upon Ugandans to demand regime change and the respect of their civil rights.



JOHANNESBURG — Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye, arrested after violent clashes erupted in the capital Kampala, will be charged with unlawful assembly, his lawyer said today.

Reuters reported that Besigye was among 16 people arrested Wednesday after a policeman was hit and killed by a stone during clashes between police and protesters. 

Besigye has been repeatedly arrested for leading protests over the high price of food and fuel in Uganda.

His lawyer told Agence France-Presse that Besigye expected to be charged with unlawful assembly and then released on bail.

Opposition politicians are leading demonstrations this week against police brutality, the Associated Press reported. Police are accused of using excessive force to break up marches.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has condemned attacks by Ugandan police against journalists trying to cover Besigye's latest arrest.

Uganda's Daily Monitor said Besigye along with Kampala's mayor and other officials had drawn a crowd while on a tour of the city. Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago had been scheduled to address vendors at a market.

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"Uganda police force regretfully confirms that a police officer was killed in a violent procession at Kampala this afternoon," a police spokeswoman told reporters, according to Reuters.

"We have arrested 16 suspects including Besigye. They're being held at various police stations in Kampala and they will be produced in court at an appropriate time," she said.

Besigye was arrested numerous times last year for his role in "walk-to-work" protests against high prices and government corruption.

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has ruled the country for the past 25 years, winning his last election in February.  

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The CPJ said that police beat freelance photographer Edward Echwalu, who was trying to cover Besigye's arrest, attacking him with batons and a rifle butt. In a separate incident, police beat Anatoli Luswata, a reporter for the private weekly Eddobozi, on the back with batons. 

"Covering opposition party issues is not a crime. Ugandan police must stop arbitrarily attacking journalists simply for doing their job," CPJ's East Africa consultant Tom Rhodes said in a statement. 

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