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Besigye: Uganda Government Squelching Protest

Ugandan opposition party leader Kizza Besigye shakes hands with supporters before being arrested on September 4, 2012 in Kampala, Uganda.
Uganda's main opposition leader says the government is trying to prevent protests during the country's 50th anniversary of independence next week.

Police arrested Kizza Besigye for the second time this week in Kampala on Thursday. He was later released without charge.

Besigye says a majority of Ugandans live in desperate poverty, and that activists are planning a march to mourn rather than celebrate the state of the country. But, he says, the government is actively blocking the protest.

"And so that is what has the government trying to stop any of the leaders of the opposition from being in town," Besigye said. "They want to keep them in their homes until the independence anniversary is over."

Kirunda Kivejinja, a senior advisor to President Yoweri Museveni, accused the opposition of planning a violent demonstration in Kampala's business district.

"And then the people will be disorganized, looting will take place, and law and order will be completely broken down," said Kivejinja. "That's not a proper demonstration."

Besigye, who has lost three presidential elections to Museveni, has been arrested repeatedly in the past two years during protests against high prices and the government.

President Museveni has ruled Uganda since 1986.