By Staff Writer
The former leader of the main opposition party in Uganda has accused the country’s police of “acting like a criminal organisation”. Dr Kizza Besigye who relinquished the leadership of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) after contesting the Uganda presidency in vain on three occasions, said people are being kept in police cells and released only after ransoms are paid to the police force. On Friday 24 January, he was arrested from his house after trying to go downtown to attend a working lunch appointment. In his own words, Dr Besigye described what happened to him:
I had a working lunch appointment today, Friday 24th January 2014; so I prepared to leave home (Kasangati) at about 12.30pm. When we reached the Western gate of my residence, we found a police patrol vehicle packed right across the gate. We hooted and the policemen who were sleeping inside the vehicle woke up and got out of the vehicle but ignored our demand to free our exit. All the policemen were busy making calls. Realising that I was getting late for my appointment, I got out of the vehicle and went to the gate to physically demand the policemen to get out of the way.
The policeman, who seemed to be in charge of the group, shouted at me ordering me back. When I didn’t back off, he pulled out a grenade-throwing pistol and threatened to shoot me with it; even though it wasn’t loaded! After an exchange with this police officer, I moved back towards the house to make some phone calls. It was at this time that I saw the familiar group of policemen (the occupants of Police van UP 1931) charging towards me from the opposite direction, towards the Eastern entrance. They immediately grabbed me, roughed me up and dragged me towards Eastern entrance. Their van soon arrived and I was bundled into it and off it sped towards my usual place of detention, Naggalama Police Station in Mukono District.