Police hold Besigye in his car for 7 hours over renewed protests

Police hold Besigye in his car for 7 hours over renewed protests
Police intercepted political activist, Dr Kizza Besigye at Kasangati town after he left his home with a megaphone mobilizing people in a campaign he termed as reawakening citizens in the face of skyrocketing commodity prices

Wakiso, Uganda | URN | Police on Thursday 19, May 2022 allowed Dr. Kizza Besigye, the leader of the People’s Front for Transition to return home, after holding him for more than seven hours in his car in Kasangati town council, Wakiso district.

Police intercepted Dr Besigye shortly after leaving his residence where he spent six days under preventive arrest. Shortly after addressing journalists, Dr Besigye jumped in his Land Cruiser vehicle, whose windscreens are sealed with wire mesh and mounted with megaphones, and tried to make his way to Kampala via Kampala-Gayaza road. However, a team of police officers cut him off as they blocked his vehicle at the front and back using patrol vehicles. 

They also erected barricades using spikes to stop Dr Besigye from continuing with his planned journey. The officers dispersed pockets of residents who had lined the road to cheer Dr Besigye while singing a resistance song. 

In the evening, MPs led by Kyamuswa County MP Moses Kabuusu pleaded with the police to allow Dr Besigye to return home. After about an hour of negotiations, the police accepted to let Dr Besigye go. Kabuusu says that Besigye agreed to return home on the condition that police should not place him under house arrest.

After the negotiations, police removed the patrols and spikes that had blocked Dr Besigye’s car, and was driven back to his residence amid jubilations from Kasangati town council residents. Besigye noted that his standoff with the police was just the beginning of his struggle to awaken Ugandans who are being affected by the hard economic times.

He noted that although he did not go to his intended destination, he successfully reached Kasangati town council hoping that next time he will reach even farther until when his message reaches the targeted audience.

Unlike the previous encounters where police would use brutal force to disperse any form of protest, this time around the officers pleaded with the residents to leave the streets and return to their respective homes.

The officers restrained themselves from using force even when the residents lit bonfires in the middle of the road. At one point, some junior officers wanted to use force but their commanders restrained them. An unidentified police commander even slapped one of the Field Force Unit (FFU) officers who was trying to beat up people on the roadside. 

As police tried to sweet talk residents to vacate the streets, some of the residents instead asked the officers to join their efforts to compel the government to address the runaway commodity prices.

The police were puzzled for close to five hours on how to deal with Dr Besigye who barricaded himself inside his vehicle. The officers repeatedly grabbed the microphone he was using to address the residents to try and stop him in vain as he would immediately pick another and continue with his speech.

To ensure that Dr Besigye stops airing his message, the officers confiscated his con speakers. Later on, the officers left Dr Besigye to stay in his car under the scorching sunshine, saying that heat will eventually force him out. 

Although he thanked the Uganda Human Rights Commission for their intervention when they learned about his illegal detention in his own home, he challenged the commission to publicly state that the police are making illegal manoeuvres.

Read Also: Uganda Police finally ends siege at Besigye’s home, deploys in Kasangati

The prices of essential commodities have been on the rise since this year began affecting millions of Ugandans who are struggling to recover from the prolonged lockdown triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government has turned a deaf ear to numerous calls to arrest the situation. Government officials blame the price increase on the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the raging war in Ukraine.

However, Dr Besigye says leaders need to be reminded that they have the duty to make interventions to help the citizenry to survive the economic shock. He has also called on the government to reduce the huge public expenditure, reclaim stolen funds from corrupt officials so as to enhance the salaries of civil servants, and give relief to schools among other affected segments of society.

President Yoweri Museveni is expected to address the nation on the current economic situation, according to Lindah Nabusayi, the senior presidential press secretary. However, in his previous address, Museveni advised Ugandans to stop complaining about the high commodity prices and resort to the cheaper alternatives like eating cassava if bread is expensive, which stirred emotions in the country.