Uganda's Besigye released on bail

Uganda’s opposition leader Kizza Besigye has been released on bail, after being arrested at a gathering in Kampala following the death of a policeman, according to the country’s Daily Monitor.

According to Reuters sources, Besigye was taken into custody, along with 15 others, in connection with the death of a police officer during the rally on Wednesday.

But Agence France-Presse sources said Assistant Inspector of Police John Bosco Ariong died after the opposition leader’s arrest, when he was hit on the head by a rock thrown by angry supporters.

Since losing a presidential election in February last year to long-time leader Yoweri Museveni, Besigye has led a series of often violent demonstrations to protest against high food and fuel prices in the East African country.

Once a close ally of Museveni, who has been in power for 25 years, Besigye has stood against him for the presidency three times, lost every time and is now his most prominent opponent.

The mayor of Kampala, Erias Lukwago, was among those detained on Wednesday.

Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba said Lukwago, who is also an opposition politician, had asked permission to inspect road projects in the capital accompanied by two people. Instead, she said, the mayor led the tour with opposition politicians, including Besigye, which attracted a crowd.

Anne Mugisha, a senior official for Besigye’s Forum for Democratic Change, the main opposition party, said Besigye had joined the mayor for a tour of the city, not to take part in a rally.

The police had been looking for an excuse to arrest Besigye, she said.

“We know they usually hire hooligans to mingle in opposition rallies and start throwing stones, so that police use that to accuse us of sowing lawlessness and then unleash brutality on us,” she said. “It’s their ploy to stop our activities but we won’t be cowed.”

In the past year Besigye has championed a series of “walk to work” protests to draw attention to the high cost of living and the president’s alleged mismanagement of the economy.

Ugandan security officials have accused Besigye of trying to sow lawlessness and exploit it to topple the government.—Reuters, AFP

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