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By David Barigye &agencies
Kampala-The ‘walk to work’ campaign that paralyzed parts of Kampala, especially in April this year, is set to resume Great Lakes Voice has learnt.
Both the political party he leads and his own lawyers have advised him against continuing with his ‘walk to work’ protest, but Dr Kizza Besigye is adamant.
Forum for Democratic Change, the main opposition party, recently declared it had pulled out of the protests led by Activists for Change (A4C), the pressure group that was behind the ‘walk to work’ campaign, but this decision, it appears, did not have the blessing of the FDC president, Dr Besigye.
The declaration was made by FDC spokesperson, Wafula Oguttu, on May 30, when Besigye was out of the country. Besigye have been under scrutiny by his followers to have left the country for treatment leaving his comrades on bed dying of teargas.
“The campaign has led to death of innocent Ugandans; the government has been so brutal during the protests. So, we thought it wise to quit in order to save the lives of Ugandans,” Oguttu told journalists.
However, Besigye’s conduct since his return from the United States where he had gone for further treatment after government security agents sprayed him with pepper, paints a different picture. It portrays Besigye as reinforcing the ‘walk to work’ action, rather than ending it.
According to reports, some of his court appearances last week, Besigye walked to and from court, where he is battling cases of inciting violence, rioting after proclamation, and unlawful assembly. On June 13, he walked from his home to Kasangati court where his case was, however, adjourned because the state had not concluded investigations.
After the adjournment, Besigye walked back to his home, accompanied by his supporters. Two days later, he drove to Nabweru court where he faces charges of holding unlawful assembly and inciting violence in relation to his earlier participation in the ‘walk to work’ demonstrations.
He attempted to walk home after the session, even against the advice of his lawyers, but was blocked by police. He then camped at nearby Nabweru Catholic Church, vowing not to leave until the police allowed him to walk to his home. Besigye left the church premises about three hours later, escorted by three police patrol cars.
Besigye has, however, told those concerned about his safety that he would rather die in the struggle other than live in servitude. His resilience appears to be paying off. A4C, we have been told, is set to restart the ‘walk to work’ campaign, with Besigye expected to actively participate. Even though Besigye considers walk to walk campaign as a success, some of his party members has come up with a slogan “nfunilawa?” literary meaning how do I profit. Also FDC officials seem to be reconsidering their earlier decision to withdraw from the campaign.
The walk to work chairman was quoted as saying that it doesn’t make sense to leave a winning approach. ‘Walk to work’ and ‘hoot and drive’ were successful, but they also have other ways that can win,” he said.
Mukono municipality MP, Betty Nambooze, one of the architects of ‘walk to work’, was quoted by the media as saying that “it is not good to engage in a single activity for so long”.
“We shall be using Parliament as well,” she said, revealing that A4C was involved in organising the recent opposition walk-out on President Museveni as he delivered the state of the nation address.
The planned resumption of ‘walk to work’ and other forms of civil protests is motivated by many factors, including the reading of the national budget, which the opposition say failed to address their concerns, such as the rising food and fuel prices.
The opposition, sources say, has also been energised by the state’s failure last week to commence prosecution of Besigye on any of the charges against him.
DP President, Norbert Mao, a lawyer, told the Uganda local media that government doesn’t arrest opposition leaders with the intention of prosecuting them but, rather, to scare them.
“The government brings these charges with no intention of prosecuting the cases, but to intimidate, harass and humiliate political opponents,” he said.
However, activities that do not include Dr Besigye, who enjoys a charismatic following in the opposition, tend to struggle. A good example is the recent UPC-led ‘Free Uganda’ campaign, which went almost unnoticed.
On the other hand, ‘walk-to-work’ was booming until Besigye was violently arrested and ended up in hospital, upon which the walking effectively came to an end. His refusal to give up this particular mode of protest could, therefore, see a return to the unrest witnessed earlier this year
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