Business is at a standstill in Kasangati town council in Wakiso district following a standoff between the police and Dr. Kizza Besigye, the former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party president. Police have successfully blocked Besigye from rallying residents to rise against the soaring commodity prices. 

Police intercepted Besigye Thursday morning shortly after living his residence where he spent six days under preventive arrest to stop him from leading protests against the high commodity prices. 

The four-time presidential candidate, who is currently leading the pressure group dubbed the “People’s Front for Transition” told journalists that he intends to spend his very last breath to wake up Ugandans to unite and force those in power to intervene and stabilize commodity prices.    

Dr. Besigye, who is mainly targeting the youth also launched a resistance song, which he said will be played across the country as a united voice for the oppressed. Composed by Samuel Walter Lubega Mukaaku, the lyrics of the song call upon Uganda to wake up and save themselves and the country at large.   

Shortly after addressing journalists, Dr. Besigye jumped in his land cruiser, whose windscreens are sealed by wire mesh and mounted with megaphones, and tried to make his way to Kampala via Kampala-Gayaza road. However, a team of police officers cut him off as they blocked his vehicle at the front and back using patrol vehicles. 

They also erected barricades using spikes to stop Besigye from continuing with his planned journey. The officers dispersed pockets of residents who had lined up along the road to cheer Besigye while singing the resistance song. 

Unlike the previous encounters where police would use brutal force to disperse any form of protest, this time around the officers pleaded with the residents to leave the streets and return to their respective homes. 

The officers restrained themselves from using force even when the residents lit bonfires in the middle of the road. At one point, some junior officers wanted to use force but their commanders restrained them. An unidentified police commander slapped one of the Field Force Unit officers who was trying to beat up people on the roadside. 

As police tried to sweet talk residents to vacate the streets, some of the residents instead asked the officers to join their efforts to compel the government to address the runaway commodity prices.    

The police were puzzled for close to five hours on how to deal with Besigye who barricaded himself inside his vehicle. The officers repeatedly grabbed the microphone he was using to address the residents to try and stop him in vain as he would immediately pick another and continue with his speech. 

To ensure that Besigye stop airing his message, the officers confiscated his con speakers. Later on, the officers left Besigye to stay in his car under the scorching sunshine, saying that heat will eventually force him out. However, by the time of filing this story, Besigye was still barricaded in the vehicle together with the other occupants. Earlier, Besigye challenged police for infringing on his rights and freedoms. 

Although he thanked the Uganda Human rights commission for their intervention when they learned about his illegal detention in his own home, he challenged the commission to publicly state that the police are making illegal maneuvers. 

The prices of essential commodities have been on the rise since this year began affecting millions of Ugandans who are struggling to recover from the prolonged lockdown triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. The government has turned a deaf ear to numerous calls to arrest the situation. Government officials blame the price increase on the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the raging war in Ukraine.

However, Besigye says leaders need to be reminded that they have the duty to make interventions to help the citizenry to survive the economic shock. He has also called on the government to reduce the huge public expenditure, reclaim stolen funds from corrupt officials so as to enhance the salaries of civil servants, and give relief to schools among other affected segments of society.

President Yoweri Museveni is expected to address the Nation on the current economic situation, according to Lindah Nabusayi, the senior presidential press secretary. However, in his previous address, President Museveni advised Ugandans to stop complaining about the high commodity prices and resort to the cheaper alternatives like eating cassava if bread is expensive, which stirred emotions in the country.

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