• April 30, 2011
  • News & Analysis
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Uganda erupts in riots as result of Besigye arrest

About two weeks ago we wrote about riots in Gulu in northern Uganda and Kampala as a result of “walk to work” demonstrations  orchestrated by opposition leaders.

Yesterday, according to the AFP, opposition leader Kizza Besigye was attacked with tear gas and had his car smashed by police who arrested him for the fourth time this month.

Today, riots have erupted in Kampala and neighboring suburbs and cities.  According to the BBC, riots started this morning with protestors burning tires and blocking roads to demonstrate their anger at how opposition leader Kizza Besigye was arrested yesterday.  He was sprayed with tear gas while in his car and then roughly tossed into a truck as punishment for his participation in “walk to work” demonstrations protesting the rising costs of food and fuel.

As The Guardian newspaper reported, “Security forces have launched a brutal crackdown, opening fire on unarmed civilians with live rounds, rubber bullets and teargas. Two people have been killed, more than 120 wounded and around 360 arrested.”

These reports are worrying even as they have us wondering if Museveni’s 25 years in power might end sooner than we’d thought.  If democratic protests are possible in Egypt, Tunisia and Syria they might be effective in Uganda as well. Though we must be careful when drawing comparisons (for instance, President Museveni has an iron-clad grip on the Ugandan military and police, and a vast majority of Ugandans don’t have access to the internet and social media) – they do have in common a spirit of people speaking out against a repressive regime.  As The Guardian pointed out, “Museveni’s heavyhanded attempts to put out the fire only appear to be fanning its flames.”

We’ll keep watching – hoping for a Uganda in which all citizens participate freely in their government.

— Paul

About the Author

Paul Ronan
Paul Ronan

Paul Ronan is Project Director for The Resolve. @pauldronan