Kampala - Police have freed Uganda's leading opposition
figure without charge one day after alleging he threatened national stability,
his party said on Wednesday, as his supporters prepared for protests over high
It was the second time in less than a week that Kizza
Besigye, once a close ally of veteran President Yoweri Museveni, had been
arrested, the latest in a series of detentions government critics say is aimed
at quashing dissent.
Police had accused Besigye of plotting a new round of
protests against the cost of living and other grievances that he had championed
in 2011 and which led to violent clashes with security forces.
A pressure group linked to Besigye's Forum for Democratic
Change (FDC) party has said it intends to demonstrate against the cost of
living and corruption in east Africa's third biggest economy, which is on the
cusp of an oil boom.
FDC official Ingrid Turinawe said Besigye had been released
before midnight on Tuesday and was now back at his home.
Turinawe, who heads the FDC's women's league, is also a
prominent figure within the For God and my Country pressure group, known
locally as 4GC.
"For God and my Country is starting its demonstrations
any time from now. The government's intent is stop it but they won't,"
Turinawe told Reuters.
Uganda's police force said the group's planned protests had
not been given the go-ahead by the authorities and would be unconstitutional.
They did not comment on Besigye's release.
"While we have no problem with anybody organising
demonstrations, as it is a constitutional right and freedom, such
demonstrations ... must be within the law," said Kale Kayihura, head of
the national police force.
"Our problem with the announced demonstrations by 4GC
is that they are not within the law," he said, calling For God and my
Country an "unlawful society".
Museveni, who won local and international praise in the
years after he took power in 1986 for stabilising the country and spurring
growth, has faced mounting criticism for what opponents say is an authoritarian
style of government.
The country's security forces, which have a reputation for
dealing brutally with political protesters, cracked down hard on the so-called
"walk-to-work" demonstrations in 2011.
At least nine people were killed in those protests which
encouraged commuters to walk to their places of work in protest against rising