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Ugandan Activists to Continue ‘Walk to Work’ Protests Monday

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Douglas Mpuga

Ugandan activists say the “walk to work” campaign to protest corruption, and rising food and fuel prices will continue throughout the country tomorrow (Monday).

“There will be walk to work tomorrow,” stressed Mathias Mpuuga, a newly-elected member of parliament from Masaka municipality in Central Uganda, just west of Lake Victoria.  He’s also the coordinator of the non-partisan Activists for Change (A4C) campaign.

“We shall end this campaign only if we have had a plausible response from government, which is responsible for the situation in the country.”

Mpuuga said the [walk to work] campaign was started because the activists wanted those responsible for high fuel and food prices to acknowledge responsibility.  However, he said, “the government claimed they would do nothing about it,” he said.

The situation seems to be changing, he added, “even the president in [last week’s] inaugural speech said [he] wants to do something about the situation in the country.”

Mpuuga said his remarks are a tacit admission that something is wrong. That admission by the government is good news for the protesters. “For us as A4C,” he said, “we can say we are on course.”

He said with the success of the walk to work campaign, it seems the whole country is realizing the issues being advocated by A4C affect everybody and not just political leaders.

Mpuuga described the government’s response as ‘unserious so far’ and “when you listen to the talk it is still riddled with the same arrogance although the arrogance is toning down a little bit.”

The problem with the president and his people, he said, “is that even when there are serious national issues to deal with, they do not want to admit there is a problem.”

He added that the government wants to address our issues by defeating [Dr. Kizza] Besigye. “I think they [the government] are frustrated because people are demanding a plausible response and telling government ‘this is not about Besigye. It’s about our country; it’s about your responsibly as leaders.’ ”

He said government‘s failure to address people’s concerns has led to a growing public response:  “We are getting so many players on board.”

Mpuuga said during the walk to work tomorrow the organizers will announce a host of other activities.

There have been violent clashes between Ugandan security and the protestors since early April. At least 9 people, including a two-year-old baby, have been killed, over 100 injured, and hundreds arrested.

President Museveni says the rise in the cost of fuel and food is caused by an increase in international oil prices and by drought, not by government policies.  He has refused to reduce taxes or provide subsidies to consumers.

Museveni says the protests are an effort by the opposition to avenge their loss in recent elections. The government describes the walk to work protest as illegal and has vowed to crush them.

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