Ugandan opposition leader detained for fourth time

Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye was dragged from his car by police on Thursday and thrown into a pick-up truck during a fifth round of protests against high food and fuel prices, Reuters witnesses said.

This is the fourth time in three weeks that Besigye, runner-up to veteran President Yoweri Museveni in a disputed February election, has been detained by police over the protests that have killed at least five.

Museveni, in power since 1986, blames drought for high food costs and soaring oil prices for surging local fuel costs, and has warned Besigye that his protests will not be tolerated.

Besigye had initially tried to walk to work again in protest at rising living costs, but was stopped by police at his gate. He decided to drive, tailed by police and supporters, before being blocked at a junction by security forces.

“The government is failing to respond to popular discontent in this country,” Besigye told a crowd at the roadblock.

“We are not asking for a regime change ... People of Uganda are expressing discontent with conditions in Uganda.
Thing is, I am not setting out to be a martyr, I’m simply asserting my citizen’s rights,” he said.

After a long stand-off, plainclothes police smashed his car window with a hammer but Besigye refused to leave. His bodyguards were dragged from the vehicle and severely beaten.

A policeman smashed another window with a pistol and drenched Besigye with pepper spray, pointing the gun at the opposition leader. He was eventually hauled out, dragged along the road and tossed into the back of a nearby van.

Police then dispersed hundreds of Besigye supporters gathered nearby with tear gas.

Besigye was bailed from prison on Wednesday after being charged last Thursday with inciting public protests, and immediately vowed to carry on with the campaign.—Reuters

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