Defiant Besigye vows to continue protests

May 1, 2011 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, May 1 – Uganda opposition leader Dr Kizza Besigye has vowed to continue with demonstrations in the neighbouring country despite the violence meted on him by state security agents, leading to his admission to the Nairobi hospital.

Dr Besigye told journalists he is determined to fight for the rights of the Ugandan people and will continue mobilising what he terms as “peaceful demonstrations” and walk to work protests to ignite action from the government.

“As I have said what underlies it [protests] is the socio economic crisis in our country and the population that is largely marginalised and now protesting their marginalisation,” Dr Besigye told journalists at a press conference at the Nairobi Hospital on Sunday.

“I suspect that these activities will definitely continue in one form or another until there is adequate response to the situation,” he said.

The Opposition leader told journalists he was worried about his life, having survived an assassination attempt when he fled the country to South Africa for four years after the 2001 General Elections.

“I know that my life is in danger I have known this for a long time, as you know I had to leave the country for four years after the 2001 elections, I lived in South Africa, I was followed in South Africa by an assassination squad and it was the South African government that intervened and helped me to survive, so there is no doubt the threat that there is to my life,” he said.

Asked to comment about statements issued by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in Nairobi on Saturday to the effect that it was him who ignited violence by spraying pepper spray to the police, Besigye denied, saying “every aspect of the incident was recorded by the media, it is out there for everybody to see.”

“On the fateful day, I obviously did not have any spray, I can not have any spray. I understand while I was here that that fellow who sprayed me there have been a lot of efforts to track him down and possibly to harm him and his family but we have advised our people that they must make a statement that we have no intention of retribution in our activities,” he said.

President Museveni in an interview with NTV on Saturday night claimed that the media had selectively recorded the violence in Uganda and accused international television stations for not showing scenes where Dr Besigye had allegedly assaulted the police.

Shocking footage of Ugandan plainclothes police were shown on television screens as they smashed Dr Besigye’s car windows and sprayed him with chemicals laced with pepper.
“I tried to cover myself in my car but the gentleman kept spraying my eyes and I became unconscious. I was bundled into a police car and later charged in court but I could take a plea because I was in a bad condition, that is when my lawyers sought authority to have me transferred here in Nairobi for specialised treatment, and as you can see I am responding well to treatment,” he said.

“There were some other orders issued that I should not be allowed through the airport, but eventually I managed to get through,” he said.

Doctors at the Nairobi Hospital said Dr Besigye would have to stay in hospital for four or five days to enable them monitor his condition.

“He suffered chemical eye injuries and soft tissue injuries, we have been able to examine him, CT scans have revealed that his ribs and spinal code is okay, we were worried but all the tests have assured us,” one of his doctors Dr Timothy Byakika said.

Dr Besigye has pledged to issue a more comprehensive statement once he leaves hospital to highlight measures he wants undertaken by the Ugandan government to address challenges facing the country.

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