From the Voice of America:
Ugandan Opposition Leader Besigye Put Under House Arrest
May 19, 2011
Michael Onyiego | Nairobi, Kenya
Opposition leader Kizza Besigye has been placed under house arrest by Ugandan police in their latest efforts to quell the “walk to work” protests.
In their sixth week in Uganda, security forces are trying nip the demonstrations in the bud by keeping former presidential candidate and opposition figure Besigye from leaving his house.
Early Thursday, as he was leaving his house on Kampala’s outskirts, Besigye was approached by police and told to return. Uganda Police Deputy Spokesman Vincent Sekate said the marches represented a threat to the peace and security of average Ugandans.
“When he got out, he was approached by some police officers. As a preventive measure, they asked him, because of what has been happening and the consequences of the campaign, because we have seen property being damaged, various offenses being committed and all that,” said Sekate. “So he was given two options: one, to either go back in his house or proceed with the policemen to the police station. So he opted to go back to his house.”
Sekate said Besigye would be allowed to leave the house “when the situation has normalized,” but did not specify further.
Ugandans have been demonstrating against rising food and fuel prices since the first march on April 11. State response to the protests has been harsh; hundreds have been arrested and injured by police trying to quiet the crowds, and at least five people have been killed. Besigye received multiple injuries, including a broken hand and severe chemical burns on his eyes, requiring treatment in Kenya.
It appears Besigye had not committed a crime before he was confined to his house, but Sekate says his detention is legal under Ugandan law.
“In our criminal procedure code act, there is section 26, which talks of arrest as a preventive measure,” he said. “So the moment any police officer suspects that any offense might be committed as a result, he can arrest such a person to prevent the other crime from being committed.”
Amnesty International Representative Godfrey Odongo says such an interpretation is dangerous, however, in the context of Besigye.
“What will happen, it seems, is that every Monday and Thursday, Kizza Besigye might not be able to leave his home for the next few weeks and that would be unacceptable,” he said.
Neither Besigye nor his representatives could be reached for comment.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has grown increasingly hostile to the demonstrations. He has encouraged the passage of a law that would deny bail for those jailed in the protests. On Tuesday, Museveni published a letter in the state-owned New Vision newspaper that called the protesters “drug-users” and said that media, including NTV, The Daily Monitor, al Jazeera and the BBC, which “cheer on” the demonstrations, would be treated as enemies of Uganda.
In this valuable report, the Voice of America does not mention that Yoweri Museveni is a military ally in the bloody Somalia war of the United States government, the founders and owners of the VOA. Neither does it mention that Besigye and other oppositionists oppose Ugandan participation in the Somalia war.
VOA does mention Uganda and the Somalia war in this video which they posted.
They called it: French Foreign Legion Training Ugandan Troops for Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia. In which “Peacekeeping” is an extreme euphemism.
Also not in this report: a member of Museveni’s party, David Bahati, a fundamentalist Christian MP, has introduced a notorious homophobic bill threatening gay people with the death penalty. That MP is linked to the “Family”, a powerful shady United States fundamentalist Christian organization with tentacles in the US political establishment. At the moment, it is not yet certain what will happen with the homophobic MP’s proposal.
Edmary Mpagi and his cousin Fred Masembe were convicted by a Ugandan court and sentenced to death for the murder of a man who was later found alive: here.
Uganda: Media Barred from Opposition Leader’s Trial: here.
Gunshots and teargas rocked Masaka last evening as FDC President Dr Kizza Besigye tried to re-launch ‘walk to work’ protests: here.
A lesbian asylum [from Uganda] seeker facing deportation [from Britain] has been granted permission to launch a new High Court bid to block her removal after fresh evidence was unearthed: here.
The Observer (Kampala)
Uganda: Time to Review Somalia Mission
8 June 2011
The news from Somalia is bad and good. Bad because a lieutenant colonel and three other Ugandan soldiers were last Saturday killed in Mogadishu.
Good because the African Union peacekeeping mission (AMISOM) and the Somali transitional government forces have recently made significant gains in their bid to eject Al Shabaab fighters from Mogadishu. Lt Col Patrick Tibihwa’s death has made him the most senior Ugandan army officer to die in Somalia so far. He was commanding officer of the 23 battalion.
Others who died are: Lt Lawrence Tugume, Cpl Abdalla Isabirye, and Pte Augustine Kuloba. These gallant soldiers must be honoured for serving and dying for their country. On the other hand, the transitional government and AMISOM have since February embarked on an offensive that has seen them take control of at least 50% of the war-torn Somali capital.
However, we must not bask in these gains and forget the price we have had to pay. Every time we lose soldiers, it is unavoidable that we find ourselves asking what cost is too high for Uganda to pay in this conflict. When Uganda first contributed troops in 2007, it was on the understanding that this was an African Union mission and so other countries would join later. Only Burundi has so far joined.
But that task is too big to be left to only two countries. Uganda lost 80 people in bomb blasts in Kampala almost a year ago, which the Al Shabaab terrorists claimed was revenge for Uganda’s role in Somalia. In addition, dozens of soldiers have died on duty in that country since 2007. Yet the conflict is far from settlement.
The African Union, United States, European Union, and other world powers interested in world security must put their money where their mouths are. Uganda has played its part and it’s time for others to either back it up in a robust way or completely take over. Indeed the government in Kampala ought to come clean on its exit strategy.
Four years is a long time and seeing no end in sight, when our citizens continue to die, or live in fear of terrorism, is unacceptable.
Ugandan tea workers strike
Hundreds of workers at the Hima tea plantation in Kyenjojo, in south-western Uganda went on strike last Friday. They are seeking an increase in the amount paid for leaves picked, from Sh70 (3 US cents) to Sh100 (4 US cents). They were also protesting the lack of care for workers who fall sick.
The workers called off their strike when the company said they would meet with the workers’ union representatives in July to discuss their grievances.
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Ugandan teachers defy government threats
Teachers in Uganda, members of the Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU) began a two-day strike Monday in pursuit of a wage increase and for adequate government funding of education. The government had warned in advance that striking teachers would be punished, but withdrew the threat.
Pay is low, with overall inflation rates at over 20 percent and around 40 percent for food. The government recently abolished school fees in primary schools in an attempt to provide universal primary education, but has failed to adequately finance them.
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