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Is the government in Uganda over-reacting?

BBC Africa HYS Team | 13:15 UK time, Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Lawyers in Uganda have started a three-day strike in protest at the excessive force used by the security forces on demonstrators in the capital, Kampala, last Friday. 

Video footage circulating on the internent shows the protesters being violently beaten by policemen and soldiers.

The unrest began at the rough treatment of position leader Kizza Besigye when he as arrested by police for his partcipation in a series of ''walk-work'' protest over high prices.


Dr Besigye, who is now receiving treatment in neighbouring Kenya for his injuries, has vowed to continue the protest over high fuel and food prices even though the government says they are illegal.
The lawyers have offered to mediate in the dispute.


How much do you think developments in Uganda are being influenced by public uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East? Is Uganda's opposition jumping on the bandwagon of protests elsewhere, or is this a genuine mass movement signifying wide dissatisfaction with the government? For its part, is the government being too heavy handed because it has seen regimes topple in Tunisia and Egypt?

Did you witness Friday's events? Do you support the demonstrators, or are they just opportunists? Do you think events in Uganda will have repercussions in other African countries?

If you would like to debate this topic LIVE on Africa Have Your Say Today at 1600 GMT, please include a telephone number. It will not be published.







  • Comment number 1.

    The way how Besigye was handled was not in order and what is happened here is not concerned about opposition it concenes all Ugandans

  • Comment number 2.

    It is a shame that the government we put into power and supported wholeheartedly can disappoint Ugandans in such a manner...M7 and cronies have done all wrongs they allegedly went to the bush to fight against,...vote rigging, corruption, arbitrary killings, torture and other forms of state inspired violence...the only difference is that he has surpassed all his predecessors,...our roads are at their worst in history, the hospitals and schools he found functioning properly have been run down and there is hopelessness everywhere, save for those close the power base who are stinking rich,.....all this is thanks to the 25 years + they have been in power and they are not about to let go,....cry, our beloved country,...cry the pearl of Africa because you have gone to the dogs and only divine intervention can save you,...M7 knows that what he is doing is not sustainable,,,,,and no matter how long it takes, justice shall be done,...the blood of innocent people is not being shed in vain,...

  • Comment number 3.

    "No matter which direction a tree falls, it must still lie where it fell!" Politics is politics! I prefer a "win - win" political game to a "blame - blame" one! Let each party own its part of blame! Moreover they all after see a better Uganda! Otherwise, nothing should be underestimated!

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    What a sad state of affair for the continent of Africa as a whole, we continue to elect incompetent and arrogant leaders that squandered the wealth of their country and then in turn violate their human rights. It is just hard to fathom that a continent rich in mineral resources and get billions of dollars in aid from western countries still have majority of their citizens living below the poverty level.

    Case in point Uganda; why would a so-called head of a country tell his citizens you’re not allowed to walk to work even if you choose to. Here’s a common example of a leader that has no leadership skills and to put it plainly; just plain ignorant.

  • Comment number 6.

    this is really total disorder,u cant believe that such a thing could happen in museven's regime.he has totally lost it why on earth cant they reduce taxes on fuel?

  • Comment number 7.

    The government is failing to fulfil its obligation, I put this to some ministers who fail to listen and Analise the situation in Uganda. The government stubbornly refused to address the causes of the demostrations that is fuel prices and food prices. In reality, these prices have risen globally due to so many factors. but the government being made by the people, for the people should come out and tries to address the situation and advices its people how to go about the situation. According to me, on the first day of "walk to work" protest, the government was supposed to come forward and address its people. I can relate it to kenyan government, it came forward and tried o reduce on taxes so as to reduce on the cost of fuel. you know fuel affects the economy because even In US I see they buy fuel at $3.4 - $5 and you see how it affected there economy?

    The government miss-handles the protesters. people working to work should be left to do so because they are exercising their constitution right. the police should give them an opportunity untill when they abuse it. but when you attack them, this turns everything to be violet. One time I saw a footage of former president of US, Bush being driven between demostrators in one of the states. this is what we deserve in Uganda.

    The government uses alot of force on protesters, yesterday it imported in new Armoured vehicles to fight protesters. the money used to purchase them would be very vital in the current situation.

    Otherwise,according to me, I doubt if over 60% of the ugandan voters voted for the current government and if the government fails to address the issues paining its people, i see more deadly protests coming up

    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    im residing around 4km from were Dr Besigye lives, in a village off the main road, the main road was blocked off, due to demonstrations on Monday over the arrest of Dr besigye, now the worrying part was i was home with my wife and niece, and at around 1pm to 4pm all i could here was gun fire a few crackles of a AK 47, over 10 second intervals then shot guns and pistols. to start with they were in the distance but they became very very close to within 50 mts of our home in a residential area. now their wear no protesters in this area? the niece was crying and we locked the door and closed the curtains, this was off a beaten road around 2 km away from the demonstrations. and this went on for at least an 2 hours if not longer. the army are still heavily present in the area, regarding the demonstration they are not, they only make more trouble last week as people know, but in a democracy you should be allowed to walk, tear gas was fired in nearly every town, however demonstrators have also cut off the head of a police officer. i disagree with many things the government do, but they need a tough police force other wise the country would be chaos. but does that include firing tear gas into schools killing children and then saying we will pay you £250 compensation for your loss? Yes living conditions are getting expensive, but most people just want to get to work or carry on their business with all this going on its sometime hard. the government dont help with their none communication and when they send a spokesman on the radio, he/she usually makes things worse because they seem so uniformed or careless to the the need of the people. come on M7 this is not how we who voted expected, their is too much work to do on the good things NOT THE BAD we have enough

    so far i have only had to stay in the house one day the day gun shots became very close, but mostly on Gayaza Rd thing are back to normal.

  • Comment number 10.

    I think the way the opposition is being handled is not right. The brutality from the army on unarmed civilians cannot be excused. If the Museveni government believes that people fairly elected them to run the country for another five years, then they should not worry about a campaign like walk2walk unless otherwise ...

  • Comment number 11.

    This is not something new. Uganda has never had protection of Human rights in the first place. What appears to be upholding of human rights by M7 government is just to show to the western world where he gets aid that he is doing well. From the top man, MPs, Judges, military, police, etc all are corrupt and bloodthirsty. These people in the higher offices can do anything to get wealth and stay in power even if it means killing others, telling lies to the world community. But what they should know is human beings will never forget.....America never forgot Osama Bin Laden till he died....So M7 wait for your time with all your close allies!

  • Comment number 12.

    I have lived in uganda since 1967, but i tell you i have never seen a president like Museveni. People talk about Amin, Obote, etc but to tell you the truth, if people thought they were in the frying pan during Amin's regime, then with Museveni they have jumped into the real fire. Think of any evil thing human beings can do...Museveni has done it to the ugandan population. It has created fear among people and people do not want to talk it out for fear of being killed or disappeared. Ugandans are peace loving people and they have gone through a lot of bad leaders in the past so now they want to concentrate on developments and growth thats why there is a lot fo fear of extrajudicial killings, disappearances, tear gas, bullets, beatings, tortures in the safe houses, etc living behind the loved ones.

  • Comment number 13.

    with the anticipated political and economic intergration of east africa, barbaric actions like oulawing walking are set to deal a deadly blow to the process. Kenya and tanzania are not the best, but are miles away and their citizens will not bear the thought of being intergrated with a monsterous regime. The protests are inspired by the uprisings going on to root out dictators, autocrats and abusive leaders in the middle east and north africa and if museveni and company can not listen to the voice of people, which is the voice of God, they are likely to fall hard. Ask gaddaffi!

  • Comment number 14.

    Definitely there is an over reaction by Uganda political leadership. It is a citizen's universal right to protest what one considers a violation of their rights. And in this case, run away prices of essential basic commodities arising out of acclaimed fossil fuel price increase.
    The action and treatment of the opposition in Uganda is a demonstration of absolute power in the hands of the executive. Walking is a natural phenomena and there should be no reason to select an individual from a crowd.

  • Comment number 15.

    Some of us Don't know who to blame. The opposition? or the government. I think individuals must take the blame and not The groups they lead. The inspector General of police Kale Kayihura is to blame for the acts of his people. Besigye should also Respect the Police We are tired of his poor politics. Let him accept defeat and know that We can never trust him if he ever comes into power through the military. We want a democratically elected leader.

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    Well, I have noticed that some people do not want to face reality and are happy to carrying on propaganda of all sorts.
    Museveni is the democratically elected president of the Republic of Uganda. Take it or leave it. To say that he is worse than Amin or Obote is another big joke of the century!. Uganda is on a steady path for social and political transformation. The rising fuel and food prices is a global issue and therefore laughable when some people think they can take advantage of this to settle their political ambitions. What a simplistic approach. Granted, those who want demonstrate are free to do so but not rioting, looting, beating up people who are not in their camp and say want to drive!. Although excessive force has been used in some cases, the situation is not as bad as portrayed. The majority are not part of these opportunistic and reactionary riots and want a tranquil atmosphere to transact their business. The state must ensure this and not let a few who want to have their way at all costs distablize everyone else while seeking sympathy from the West. Ugandans know what they want and they got it!!

  • Comment number 18.

    I think such oppressive measures are not good, but we should also not take the Police for granted, The work of the police is to maintain law and order so when police tells you to something and you don't then be ready for such action. im glad that this happened it should be a lesson to many that would want to engage into such rec lase demonstrations. in fact Besigye should now be in position to to do better demonstrations that do not involve in any way abuse of police laws and orders.


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