Ugandan politician arrested again as threat to stability

KAMPALA Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:35am EDT

Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye sits in a police cell in Uganda's capital Kampala January 19, 2012. REUTERS/Courtesy FDC/Handout

Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye sits in a police cell in Uganda's capital Kampala January 19, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Courtesy FDC/Handout

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KAMPALA (Reuters) - Uganda's leading opposition politician has been arrested by police for the second time in less than a week for trying to destabilize the country, the latest in a series of actions seen as aimed at silencing dissent.

Police said Kizza Besigye was arrested for trying to spark a new round of protests against high prices and other grievances that he had championed in 2011 and which led to violent clashes with the security forces. His aide denied any such plan.

Besigye, a one-time ally of President Yoweri Museveni, has been held repeatedly on similar charges of inciting the public, most recently with a detention of a few hours on Thursday.

Museveni, who won local and international praise in the years after he took power in 1986 for stabilizing the country and spurring growth, has faced mounting criticism for what opponents say is an increasingly authoritarian style.

Police deputy spokesman Patrick Onyango said intelligence indicated Besigye was seeking to start a new round of the "walk to work" campaign that was sparked in 2011 to highlight then high fuel prices and wasteful government spending.

"Whenever we have information that he's setting out to go and cause chaos we'll not allow that," he said. "So today we arrested him as a preventive measure and we have him."

An aide to Besigye, who stood against Museveni in three presidential elections and complained of fraud when he lost, said police harassed him as he tried to leave his home, prompting party officials and others to gather in the area.

The aide, Francis Mwijukyes, said police then took him away.

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Richard Lough and Michael Roddy)

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