News24

Uganda detains Besigye ahead of rally

2012-01-19 14:58

Kampala - Ugandan police fired tear gas before bundling opposition leader Kizza Besigye and several allies into police vans on Thursday, witnesses said, shortly before planned anti-government protests.

Besigye had been meeting a number of senior opposition figures in an upmarket suburb of the capital, Kampala, ahead of a rally to demonstrate against corruption and economic hardships.

Police intercepted the group on the highway as they headed towards the city centre.

"Don't allow yourselves to be used by this criminal government. What crime have I committed? Why should you be used to wreak havoc on your own country," Besigye told police during the confrontation.

Veteran leader Yoweri Museveni cracked down hard on a wave of protests against surging prices last year.

Besigye was arrested several times last year during violent clashes between the security forces and his supporters. In one of the protests, he was pepper-sprayed in the eyes and badly manhandled, and had to go to hospital in neighbouring Kenya.

The opposition-led Activists 4 Change group, which spearheaded those protests with Besigye, accused the government earlier this week of "failed economic policies" which the group said had allowed the cost of living to soar.

Besigye was being held in a police station in Kampala.