By Paul Ndiho, Washington DC
March 9, 2011
Police in Uganda’s capital Kampala fired teargas and shoot live bullets over the heads of protesters demonstrating against President Yoweri Museveni’s huge election win last month.
General Museveni who has been in power for 25 years, won 68 percent of the February 18 vote, with closest rival Kizza Besigye gaining 26 percent.
Besigye said the polls were a sham due to widespread bribery, ballot box stuffing and intimidation.
The protesters dispersed after police stepped in and the security forces then sealed off the streets around the shuttered market in the capital.
Wednesday’s demonstration, was not endorsed by Besigye, was called by Olara Otunnu, the fourth-placed candidate and leader of the Uganda People’s Congress.
Otunnu led a crowd of about 80 people through the city before a larger group of several hundred gathered at the city’s Kisekka market, a site of anti-government protests in the past.
“We want a new president to come in with a new idea and I want to assure you, on Sunday we are doing it again, from church service we shall invade state house,” said an unidentified protester.
European Union observers, the African Union, the United States and Britain all criticized the poll but stopped short of condemning the result.
According to police, a number of people wearing yellow, the color of Museveni’s ruling National Resistance Movement, had their clothes torn off by protesters.
Police said eight people had been arrested. Police spokesman Vincent Sekate
“The people were putting barriers on the roads. Vehicles could not pass and all those who could access the point, when you were putting on yellow, anything that looked like yellow, whether a helmet, anything of that nature, people had started pelting stones at them and beating them up, so police came,”
Police had warned that peaceful protests against the election outcome were illegal, saying the opposition intended to cause “violence and destruction”.
Besigye and other opposition leaders have repeatedly warned Uganda is ripe for an Egypt-style uprising, though analysts question public appetite for unrest.
Besigye unsuccessfully appealed to the Supreme Court after losing the 2001 and 2006 elections. While judges agreed there had been vote rigging and violence against the opposition, they said it had not changed the overall result.