Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said opposition leader Kizza Besigye, who has been hospitalized after being injured during his arrest this week, should inform the police about planned protests to avoid riots in the country.
“There is no problem for Besigye to walk, either to walk to work or to walk as an exercise,” Museveni said today in Nairobi, the capital of neighboring Kenya. “He needs to inform police if he is going to walk to work with many people for security reasons, because some people are likely to riot.”
At least two people died and 71 were injured yesterday in Kampala, the Ugandan capital, when protests erupted over the police’s arrest of Besigye a day earlier. Video footage broadcast by NTV Kenya, a closely held broadcaster, showed plainclothes policemen breaking the window of his car with a hammer, spraying pepper spray at Besigye while he was in his vehicle and then bundling him into the back of a pickup truck.
Museveni said police used pepper spray on Besigye in self defense after a policeman was sprayed with the chemical.
Besigye has led a so-called walk-to-work campaign this month to protest at surging prices for foods and gasoline. Inflation accelerated to 14.1 percent in April, from 11.1 percent in March, as food costs jumped 31 percent, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics said yesterday.
The 55-year-old opposition leader has been detained by police at least four times during the protests. On a fifth occasion, he was briefly detained by police before being allowed to go to the hospital for treatment on an injury to his arm, according to Sarah Eperu, a spokeswoman for Besigye’s Forum for Democratic Change.
Besigye is currently in the hospital in Nairobi, the capital of neighboring Kenya, for treatment on injuries he suffered two days ago, Eperu said by phone today from Kampala.
“I wish him a quick recovery,” Museveni said. Besigye was previously the president’s physician. The two fell out in 1999 following a dispute over policy differences.
In yesterday’s protests, police fired bullets and tear gas in Kampala to quell protests that included opposition supporters setting fire to tires in the middle of roads across the city.
The crisis in the country “cannot escalate,” Museveni said. “We are going to defeat it.”
Uganda, with a population of more than 30 million, is Africa’s largest producer of robusta coffee.