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MP wants House to debate fuel, living costs

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 18 – Budalang\’i Member of Parliament Ababu Namwamba plans to move a Motion on Tuesday for Parliament to set aside its normal business, to facilitate urgent debate on the spiralling prices of fuel and high cost of living.

Mr Namwamba wrote to the Speaker on Monday indicating that there was widespread public outcry over rising prices of consumer goods that had been triggered by an alarming increase in the cost of fuel.

“Taking cognisance of the civil disturbances in neighbouring Uganda over a similar matter, I hold the view that it would amount to a dereliction of duty for Parliament to remain silent amidst the groans of pain from the citizens we represent,” Mr Namwamba’s letter to the Speaker reads

Last week, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) raised the price of fuel by Sh8, in line with price control regulations.

The increase was by far the highest price paid for a litre of fuel since 2008 when motorists paid as much as Sh110.

The ERC releases maximum pump prices every 14th day of the month but expects oil marketers to compete below the respective prices.

A statement from the ERC indicated that motorists in Mombasa would for the next one-month buy super petrol at Sh107.92 – the lowest amount countrywide – while those residing in Mandera will pay the highest rate at Sh123.69.

In Kisumu and Eldoret, consumers will part with Sh113 per litre of super petrol, while diesel will retail at Sh109 per litre.

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The ERC attributed the rise to soaring international prices of crude oil and refined petroleum products during March as the price of crude rose by 8.54 percent from $103.6o per barrel to $112.45. Over the same period, the average exchange rate deteriorated from Sh83.55 against the dollar in February to Sh86.30 in March.

On Monday, Ugandan police detained 17 opposition leaders, including three who ran against President Yoweri Museveni in polls, ahead of a new protest against spiralling food and fuel prices.

The opposition had called for another "walk to work" protest, following other attempts last week, but police detained the leaders minutes after they left their homes.

Kizza Besigye, arrested in similar circumstances a week earlier, had barely left his house when he was taken in.

"Besigye was arrested as he left his house this morning and is being held in Kasangati police station on the outskirts of Kampala,” Alice Alaso, secretary general of Besigye\’s Forum for Democratic Change, told AFP.

Nabakooba\’s deputy Vincent Ssekate said Besigye – Museveni\’s main challenger in the February 18 polls – was brought in because he was being investigated over a number of cases unrelated to the protests.

"Several cases are being investigated. We brought him in so that he could help us with our investigations," Ssekate said, without elaborating.

Democratic Party leader Norbert Mao and Uganda Peoples Congress head Olara Otunnu were also arrested as they tried to join the movement, protest coordinator Mathias Mpuuga told AFP, as were the others.

"Mao was arrested metres from his gate while Otunnu managed to walk about half a kilometre before he was detained," he said.

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Besigye, 54, walked to church unobstructed on Sunday but Museveni mocked his "walk to work" campaign during a weekend news conference and warned that any unauthorised demonstration would be dealt with firmly.

"We made it clear to Besigye that you are not going to demonstrate or to walk. If you want to walk, go somewhere and take a walk," Museveni said.

Ugandan police on Thursday clashed with protestors in Kampala and several other towns as Besigye appeared bent on opposing the regime, two months after losing to Museveni in elections he claimed were rigged.

Protestors say steep prices are due to bad governance but Museveni, who has ruled the east African country for a quarter of a century, insisted drought and foreign factors were to blame.

The consumer price index grew by four percent in March from the previous month and the country\’s year-on-year inflation rate stands at 11.1 percent.

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