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Uganda Protesters Clash With Police Over Opposition Leader's Arrest

Uganda Protesters Clash With Police Over Opposition Leader's Arrest
Uganda Protesters Clash With Police Over Opposition Leader's Arrest

Riots have broken out in Kampala after the fourth arrest of opposition leader Kizza Besigye. According to reports, there have been confrontations between rioters and Ugandan police and the armed forces that have left at least two people dead and hundreds wounded.

Police and armed forces have reportedly used live ammunition to quell riots across Kampala following opposition leader Kizza Besigye’s fourth arrest on Thursday. The Ugandan army has played an increasing role in the state response to the opposition-led "Walk to Work" protests which began on April 12.

According to reports, rioters have set up roadblocks in Kampala’s city center using flaming tires and causing more confrontations.

The Deputy Spokesman of Besigye’s Forum for Democratic Change, Totelebuka Bamwemda, described the scene for VOA. "Kampala, there is a lot of chaos. People were demonstrating around Kiseka Market. The soldiers responded with teargas, beating and excessive forces and it has spread to the other parts of Kampala - suburbs," he said.

The riots are centered on the arrest of politician Kizza Besigye, a three time presidential candidate and runner-up in February’s presidential vote. Besigye and opposition allies have organized the "Walk to Work" protests in response to rising food and fuel prices in the east African nation. President Yoweri Museveni has declared the demonstrations illegal and Ugandan security forces have met each of the walks with increasing force.

On Thursday, Besigye was arrested for the fourth time under charges of inciting violence and unlawful assembly. Video of the incident shows Ugandan police smashing the politicians car, spraying it with teargas and forcefully removing Besigye.

This morning, a visibly injured Besigye appeared in court and was released. Representatives said he was receiving medical treatment at his home on the outskirts of Kampala.

The Walk to Work protests are scheduled for every Monday and Thursday. Bamwenda said protests would continue, and Besigye would take part if able.

"Depending on his health. Secondly he has to appear in court - in Kasangati court. That is the other problem. Maybe he can walk from his home to court," said Bamwenda.

The international community has roundly condemned President Museveni’s response to the demonstrations. United States Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson told reporters Thursday he spoke with the Ugandan government about the arrests and urged the authorities to act in a "responsible and civil fashion."