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Ugandan Police Arrest Opposition Leader Besigye


Uganda's Forum for Democratic Change leader Kizza Besigye smiles in a police van after he was arrested and charged for marching in a fourth round of protests against high prices, in the capital Kampala, April 21, 2011

Uganda's Forum for Democratic Change leader Kizza Besigye smiles in a police van after he was arrested and charged for marching in a fourth round of protests against high prices, in the capital Kampala, April 21, 2011

Ugandan police arrested opposition leader Kizza Besigye on Thursday for the third time this month, as he tried to lead a protest against rising fuel and food prices in the capital, Kampala.

Authorities transferred Besigye to a jail in the central town of Nakasongola after charging him with unlawful assembly. A judge ordered the opposition leader to remain in custody until a bail hearing on April 27.

Earlier, Besigye drove from his home on the outskirts of the capital toward the city center before getting out of his car and leading hundreds of supporters in a protest march. It was the fourth in a series of marches he had organized to protest high transportation costs by encouraging people to "walk to work" instead of driving.

Police detained Besigye shortly after he began walking and took him away in a van. They also fired tear gas to break up the march.

A separate protest against high food and fuel prices erupted Thursday in the southern Ugandan town of Masaka, where a five-year-old child was killed by stray bullets as police opened fire to disperse protesters. Several people were injured in the unrest.

Besigye ran for president in the February election, but finished a distant second to incumbent Yoweri Museveni. The opposition leader has lost three straight elections to the longtime Ugandan president.

Museveni blames rising food and fuel costs on a drought and foreign factors, such as soaring global oil prices. His government has said it will not tolerate the protest movement and ordered the police to break up three previous demonstrations in Kampala.

Besigye's hand was hit by a rubber bullet when police opened fire to disperse a march last Thursday.

The U.S. State Department has called on the Ugandan government to respect citizens' rights to demonstrate peacefully.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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