Ugandan police prevent opposition leader Kizza Besigye from participating in debate on controversial oil pipeline

Archive – Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni – XINHUA / ZUMA PRESS / CONTACTOPHOTO

Uganda Police on Tuesday barred prominent opposition figure Kizza Besigye from taking part in a debate in the capital Kampala on a controversial oil pipeline, amid authorities’ plans to start commercial crude oil production by the end of 2025.

Besigye arrived early in the day at a hotel in the capital, but was unable to pass because officers had set up a roadblock in the area to prevent anyone without «written authorization» from entering.

The opposition has denounced the blockade and stressed that «this is a matter of national interest». «There is no law that requires you to present a letter of authorization to participate in a meeting in an enclosed space,» he argued.

«From where does the authority of the Police derive for citizens to attend a meeting in a hotel?», asked Besigye, who was a candidate for the Ugandan Presidency in the past, as reported by the Ugandan newspaper ‘Daily Monitor’.

The opposition leader of the Popular Front for Transition (PFT) was arrested several times in 2022 for his role in protests against rising commodity prices.

Authorities dropped treason charges against Besigye in October 2021 for his decision to self-proclaim himself president following elections held in 2016. The opposition, who came second in the polls, denounced that the results were rigged.

Besigye, who was already charged with treason in 2005 – charges that were also dropped – chose not to contest the elections in January 2021, where the opposition leader, Robert Kyagulanyi, also claimed to have won and denounced a fraud to favor Museveni, who rejects the criticism and remains in office.