Earlier this month during another walk-to-work protest, police fired tear gas into a hospital, from which protesters were throwing rocks.
“Today, we have a situation where the regime is actually terrified of its citizens. That is the very reason why we are being stopped to walk,” Mr. Besigye said during the interview at his home.
He said he wants Mr. Museveni's government to crack down on corruption that wastes taxpayer money and to improve Ugandans’ lives.
Protests have spread countrywide. Angry Ugandans have poured piles of rocks onto roadways. Tires have been burned and shops looted.
John Nsubuga, a member of Mr. Besigye’s Forum for Democratic Change party, said the opposition leader “cares about what hurts the people, and that is the reason he is heading the protests. Prices of all items have shot up, yet the government is doing nothing.”
Police spokesman Vincent Sekate said the marches create a public hazard, and that’s why Mr. Besigye has been arrested. Mr. Sekate said Mr. Besigye and the walk-to-work campaign have not coordinated protests with authorities.
“The regime said it had 70 percent of the vote,” Mr. Besigye said, referring to February’s official election result. “Why would you be afraid of some miserable losers walking on the streets? Why would that cause a crisis? The real reason is that whereas you can manipulate election figures, you cannot manipulate people’s feelings on the ground.”
Mr. Besigye was the president’s personal physician before being dismissed for saying in 1999 the government was becoming a one-man dictatorship. In 2001 and 2006, Mr. Besigye ran unsuccessfully against Mr. Museveni. He appealed the losses. The Supreme Court agreed with some of his arguments that the votes were unfair but did not overturn the results.
In February, Mr. Besigye drew 26 percent of the vote to Mr. Museveni’s 68 percent, according to official returns. Mr. Besigye calls the results falsified and thinks he won more votes than Mr. Museveni.
The EU’s election observer team said there were serious flaws with the vote and that state resources were used in favor of Mr. Museveni.
Mr. Museveni recently condemned Mr. Besigye for the protests, saying that the walks would not bring down prices. Mr. Museveni has vowed that there will be no Egypt-style overthrow of his government and promised continued crackdowns on protests.
Mr. Museveni’s responses have not addressed economic problems that many Ugandans are suffering from.
Uganda is a young country, with half its nearly 35 million citizens under 15 years of age. An estimated 1.2 million have HIV/AIDS. The average yearly income is just $1,200, though many here have hopes and fears over newly discovered oil that will soon be pumped.View Entire Story
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