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Uganda Opposition Leader to Stage Another 'Walk-to-Work'

Uganda opposition leader Kizza Besigye being loaded into a police truck

Kizza Besigye says he will continue walking until the government puts in place measures to alleviate the high food and fuel prices

Uganda opposition leader Kizza Besigye says he and his supporters will stage another ‘walk-to-work’ Thursday to highlight what he says are high fuel and food prices, as well as alleged gross abuses of public office by the government of President Yoweri Museveni.

But, Ugandan police say Besigye will not be allowed to ‘walk-to-work’ without a permit.

Besigye insists he will continue walking until the government puts in place decisive measures to alleviate the cost of living.

“We shall, of course, continue this protest until the situation that we are protesting against changes, the terrible conditions under which our people have to survive at the moment. One of the biggest problems we have now is the cost of food. Our people are starving and they cannot afford to eat one meal a day…and this is what we are protesting for two main reasons. One, to show solidarity with the suffering masses, but, secondly, to shine the torch on these gross abuses of public office,” he says.

The government has accused Besigye of being responsible for the violence last week by insisting to walk to work without first notifying the police. The opposition leader was shot in the hand by a rubber bullet as police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the demonstrators. Besigye was detained briefly during a similar walk April 11.

Besigye says the police are to blame for using excessive force against peaceful protesters.

“Of course, the government can say what it wants…Fortunately, all the activities have been widely covered by the media. There has been no violence of whatever nature started by our action. All the problems have been caused by a rampaging police trying to stop peaceful people who are walking, and that is what enrages people, and people start to respond sometimes violently toward the police. Therefore, the police must be held directly responsible for all the violence they start,” Besigye says.

The Uganda Broadcasting Council Wednesday warned broadcasters and media houses that it would take “appropriate action” against them if they carried material deemed to promote the culture of violence, ethnic prejudice and public insecurity.

Besigye says the government is trying to hide from the public the abuse of peaceful protesters.

“Until now, the media has had very, very close and wide coverage of what has been taking place and they have been informing the country of what is going on and, obviously, this has put the government in very poor light, showing the police tear gassing schools, homes, lobbing tear gas canisters in people’s homes, and those other kinds of abuses, which the government would like to hide from public view,” Besigye says.