Bloomberg News

Uganda Police Fire Rubber Bullets, Tear Gas at Protesters

October 17, 2011

(Updates with inflation in third paragraph.)

Oct. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Ugandan security forces fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse protests against the rising cost of living in the capital, Kampala, witnesses said.

Police used “necessary” means to disburse “hooligans” in downtown Kampala, Ibin Ssenkubi, the metropolitan police spokesman, said by phone today. The so-called walk-to-work protest was called by the opposition group, Action for Change.

“People scampered for their dear lives as police fired tear gas and rubber bullets,” Sunday Mubiru, an eyewitness, said by phone from the Kisekka Market area in downtown Kampala.

Inflation in Uganda, East Africa’s third-biggest economy and the continent’s second-largest coffee producer, surged to an 18-year high of 28.3 percent last month, prompting the central bank to raise the benchmark interest rate by 4 percentage points on Oct. 4. The country is scheduled to become an oil producer next year when Tullow Oil Plc begins pumping crude and gas from the Lake Albert Basin.

At least 11 people died and more than 480 were injured during protests in April and May over rising costs, according to the Uganda Red Cross.

Ugandan police chief Kale Kayihura said Sept. 27 that the authorities would step up security to deal with the planned “disruptive activities.” He called Action for Change a “sinister project that must be shunned, because if allowed to be implemented, it will undermine the current efforts to solve the problems of the country and plunge the country into chaos.”

The police arrested a number of A4C activists yesterday and deployed officers to the homes of senior members of the group to foil the protests, Mathias Mpuga, a coordinator for Action for Change, said by phone from Kampala.

--Editors: Karl Maier, Ana Monteiro

To contact the reporter on this story: Fred Ojambo in Kampala at fojambo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net


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