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Kampala — Police arrested more than 40 people in Uganda on Monday as security forces used teargas and “other tactics” to quell a large protest against sky-high fuel prices, a police spokesperson said.
Unrest has hit different parts of the East African country against soaring prices of consumer goods that have squeezed businesses and upended livelihoods. The cost of fuel in Uganda has almost doubled since the start of the year.
Early on Monday protesters began erecting barriers and burning tyres on a highway connecting Jinja, an industrial town in eastern Uganda, and another nearby town, said police spokesperson James Mubi.
TV footage of the riot showed clouds of teargas from exploding canisters fired by police, while security personnel including police and soldiers chased stone-throwing youths and beat them with truncheons.
“It wasn’t a protest, the youths were instead robbing others, damaging properties, blocking roads, smashing vehicles, burning tyres,” Mubi said.
Forty-one protesters have been detained and will be charged with inciting violence, robbery, malicious damage, taking part in unlawful assembly and being a public nuisance, he said.
Uganda’s opposition and many citizens have been calling for tax cuts to offset inflation, but President Yoweri Museveni has refused, blaming high prices for items such as cooking oil, fuel and wheat on the war in Ukraine and the Covid-19 pandemic.
A popular opposition figure, Kizza Besigye, has been jailed twice in recent months as he sought to galvanise mass protests against what he said is a government failure to tame inflation.
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Published by Arena Holdings and distributed with the Financial Mail on the last Thursday of every month except December and January.