At least eight protesters were teargassed and subsequently arrested by the Ugandan police on Monday, following demonstrations against the high cost of living in the country.
The protest, which was aimed to get the government to address the ever rising cost of items, became violent and the police stepped in to salvage the situation.
The angry protesters reportedly burnt tyres and blocked a major highway in Jinja, about 80 kilometres east of the capital Kampala, making it impossible for movement to take place.
Area police spokesman James Mubi confirmed the use of tear gas to disperse protesters, and the arrest of eight persons believed to be ring leaders.
“Police used some minimal force including teargas to disperse the protesters.
“Eight of the ring leaders were arrested, and will be charged on Tuesday with inciting violence,” he said.
Uganda, like many other vulnerable African countries, is experiencing rise in living costs and economic hardships induced by Covid-19, recently exacerbated by the Russia-Ukraine war.
The cost of food items and other necessities have doubled over, making life impossible to live for most families.
Petrol in Uganda currently sells at 7,000 shillings ($1.85) a litre, a double increase since February.
“We do support such protests. Government must act. People are sleeping hungry,” says Solomon Wandibwa, a local businessman.
In spite of all these, President Yoweri Museveni has repeatedly turned a deaf ear to pleas to address the situation by cutting taxes and subsidies, instead urging citizens to live within their means.
“Cutting taxes and subsidies, especially on imports, is suicidal because our people may buy carelessly and we end up draining our forex (foreign exchange) reserves,”Museveni had said in his annual state of the nation address in June 2022.
Last month, former Ugandan presidential candidate Kizza Besigye led a protest against inflation in the country, and was charged with inciting violence.
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