• Dr. Besigye and unspecified number of FDC party supporters were violently arrested while on their way to attend the party’s conference at Mandela National Stadium.
  • The police used a water cannon to force Besigye out of his car before bundling him into a police van, which sped off.
  • The government of President Yoweri Museveni has over the years been accused by rights groups of rampant rights violations including violent crackdowns on opposition activists and intimidation of journalists.

Uganda’s opposition leader and Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) former party president, Dr Kizza Besigye, was violently arrested on Monday morning by Uganda’s police.

Dr. Besigye and unspecified number of FDC party supporters were violently arrested while on their way to attend the party’s conference at Mandela National Stadium in Namboole.

Mandela National Stadium, Uganda (Flickr)
Mandela National Stadium, Uganda (Flickr)

Heavily armed police and military officers condoned off the stadium and turned away whoever approached the facility something which angered the FDC party members who decided to march in a procession from Mandela national stadium to their party headquarters in Najanankumbi.

The police then tried to disperse their procession on the busy Kampala-Jinja highway but the FDC party supporters, some on foot and vehicles were not having it and soldiered on attracting crowds.

Ugandan Police adopt law of the jungle

‘Cornered’ Uganda police resorted to use tear gas, water cannon and live bullets to disperse them.

To arrest the situation, police tried to arrest the leaders of the procession which included Kira Municipality Member of Parliament; Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, who is also the FDC party spokesperson, but he disappeared. 

Meanwhile, amid all the drama, Dr Kizza Besigye, the former FDC party president continued waving to the crowd from his vehicle.

Police then blocked his car with the help of about six police patrol trucks and later towed his car to Naggalama Police Station. However, some of the chains used to tow Besigye’s car broke as the crowd cheered the four-time presidential candidate who could come out of the open roof vehicle and wave to them.

At this point, the police then used a water cannon to force Besigye out of his car. They later managed to force him out of the vehicle and bundled him into a police van, which sped off to Naggalama.

Condemnation

Following his violent arrest, Uganda’s civil society, opposition leaders including Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, popularly known by his stage name Bobi Wine, another prominent opposition leader giving President Yoweri Museveni sleepless nights, strongly condemned the arrest and the manner Besigye was arrested.

Dr. Besigye later tweeted that he had released from Naggalama Police cells at about 10pm on Monday night.  

In a statement, police said on Monday afternoon that FDC informed them about the intended assembly and advised venue change but they ignored the directive.

“FDC informed us about the intended celebration and were wrote back to them advising that they should shift the venue but they ignored our directive. Besigye defied police orders and parked his vehicle in the middle of the road, blocking and inconveniencing other road users. The car was towed away and he was taken to Naggalama Police Station. At the moment no charges have been preferred against him but investigators are still gathering evidence,” Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson Mr Patrick Onyango said.

The government of President Yoweri Museveni has over the years been accused by rights groups of rampant rights violations including violent crackdowns on opposition activists and intimidation of journalists.

New York-based rights body Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Monday accused the government of using disproportionate force in quelling the protests and also condemned attacks on journalists.

In 2016, Uganda, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Nigeria police force were ranked as the bottom 5 worst police forces in the world by World Internal Security and Police Index (WISPI).