Cops arrest Besigye to prevent rallies
23 July 2013, 12:06
Kampala - Police arrested Uganda's leading opposition figure
on Monday saying he was about to stage illegal rallies, in what will be seen as
the latest crackdown on dissent in the oil-rich African country.
Kizza Besigye has been detained several times since he
championed opposition demonstrations over high fuel and food prices that rocked
parts of the capital and other cities in 2011.
A security crackdown on those protests left at least nine
people dead and tarnished the image of veteran President Yoweri Museveni.
Opposition activists last week said they were planning more
rallies against what they saw as unfair taxes on piped water and kerosene.
"The law allows us to carry out preventive
arrest," deputy police spokesman Patrick Onyango told Reuters.
"We had information that Besigye was leaving his home
to commit crimes by staging illegal assemblies and we arrested him," he
One of Besigye's aides, Francis Mwijukye, told Reuters the
opposition leader had been taken to a prison in Mukono district, about 40km
east of the capital Kampala.
"They're scared that holding him in Kampala is
dangerous because his supporters would come to demand his release. So they
abducted him and brought him to a rural area," he said.
Museveni won local and international praise in the years
after he took power in 1986 for stabilising the country and spurring growth in.
The prospects of Uganda, east Africa's third largest
economy, looked brighter still when explorers struck oil in 2006. Uganda said
in January it was aiming to start commercial output of oil by 2016 at the
But the president has faced mounting criticism for what
opponents say is an increasingly authoritarian style.
Besigye, a one-time ally of Museveni, has traditionally
drawn most of his support from urban centres while Museveni has broadly
remained popular among the rural masses.