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HOW IT HAPPENED: Opposition Announce WalkTo-Work Protests

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5:07: Besigye addresses press. He furiously blasts security for ill-treating Turinawe. Besigye expresses disappointment at the high-handedness of police during Turinawe’s arrest.

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He says NRM days are numbered. The FDC stalwart says the arrests will not scare opposition from walking to work.

He says instead of mistreating Turinawe, government should solve issues that affect Ugandans especially inflation, low wages for teachers and high power tariffs.

Besigye says security officials who mistreat opposition leaders will soon pay for their sins.

4:50: Ingrid Turinawe is transferred under tight security to Kasangati chief Magistrate’s Court.

3:20: Col. Kizza Besigye and youth leader Moses Byamugisha storm Kasangati police station. They want Turinawe taken to court.

12:30: A4C coordinator MP Mathius Mpuuga issues press statement, officially announcing the return to walk-to-work.

He gives three main reasons which include increased interest on old commercial bank loans, stagnant teachers’ salaries and hiked electricity tariffs.

Below is the verbatim statement.

Today, we are here to announce the launch of our latest campaign ‘Walk to Work’ Reloaded.

We started the year in much the same way as we ended it: With more stories of public wastage and corruption set against a backdrop of economic gloom and misery.

The government announced a once percentage fall in inflation from 28% to 27% as though it were reason to celebrate, well knowing that it is pathetic to talk of any substantive change with such a high inflation rate.

Even with the shilling gaining strength against the US dollar towards the end of last year, the ordinary man on the street was unable to reap any benefits because the contradictions in the economy have overwhelmed the best minds in the central bank and Ministry of Finance.

CBR

By raising the Central Bank Interest Rate CBR) to 23%, the government was passing the effects of its failed economic policies to traders and ultimately to the person on the street who buy from the traders.

The natural consequence of the raised CBR was raising of commercial interest rates to percentages as high as 27 – 30%.

As though this was not punitive enough, the government allowed commercial banks to impose this high rate on both new and existing loans thereby exposing businesses (particularly small businesses) to capital and liquidity risks that they had not envisaged at the time of borrowing old loans.

The outcry from the trading community was inevitable and in our view it was overly considerate.

The harshness and insensitivity of this government’s economic and fiscal policies deserved an even greater, country wide response from the business community.

We applaud KACITA in their efforts to campaign for lower interest rates and will add a voice to their cause because it is ultimately the cause of the common man.

ELECTRICTY RATES

As though to add insult to injury, the Electricity Regulation Authority chose the period of the traders strike to scrap the power subsidy and hike power tariffs by an average of 45% across different users.

Uganda National Chamber of Commerce responded swiftly, noting that “These tariffs shall fall on the shoulders of the consumer so as to offset the subsidy of 396 billion that electricity regulatory authority (ERA) has been paying to the power generators and distributors, to cushion power consumers from higher tariffs.” In addition to the high interest rates and day long load shedding, businesses now have to find means of paying these increased tariffs.

Yet the power tariffs do not affect only businesses but also domestic users who will pay Shs 524.5 per unit instead of the Shs 385.6 (a 36% increase), commercial users will pay 487.6 instead of 358.6, (a 36% increase) and medium industrial users will pay 458.9 instead of 333.2 (a 37% increase) while large industrial users will pay 312.8 instead of 184.8 (a 70% increase.)

TEACHERS SALARIES

As the cost of living continues to soar, wages and salaries for teachers, workers and professionals on government’s pay roll have remained stagnant.

The Chief Justice has recently joined a queue of public servants that are demanding higher salaries some of whom are threatening organized industrial action.

OFFICIAL LAUNCH

It is under these severe economic hardships that we are launching walk to work reloaded.

Our methods and goals have not changed. We shall continue to use nonviolent action to draw attention to the plight of the common Ugandan.

We shall continue to speak out and amplify the voices of millions of Ugandans whose voices are stifled by an oppressive, corrupt and uncaring government.

We shall continue until your voices are heard in the highest offices of government and beyond.

The year is fresh and we are ready to meet the oppressor on the street as we carry your voices. We ask you to join us at a series of rallies that we have lined up under walk to work reloaded.

Venues

Hon. Nabillah Sempala has graciously accepted to host us in her constituency for our first rally, which will be held this week. Rallies will continue over the next couple of weeks at venues and times to be announced on radios.

Our final grand rally will be at Kololo Independence Grounds on 28th January, 2012.

We call on all Ugandans across the political and social spectrum to join us and participate in this program where they can express their dissatisfaction and listen to a variety of speakers with ideas on how to tackle the economic crisis.

This morning, Police surrounded our colleague, Ingrid Turinawe’s home as early as 5am to pre-empt our activities.

She was intercepted and is now being detained at Kasangati Police station.

The police Spokesperson alleges that at the weekend A4C beach bash in Entebbe, Ingrid said we would march from this press conference and ‘cause chaos.’ Nothing could be further from the truth.

We caution the police to stop being reactionary and to desist from acting on the basis of speculation.

We look forward to seeing you all. Our rallies like all our activities are peaceful and anyone harboring ideas of violence is not invited.

We call on the police to provide us with adequate security for our peaceful rallies.

Mathias Mpuuga -National Coordinator, A4C.

11:54: Activists for Change boss Hon. Mathius Mpuuga addresses press at opposition headquarters along Katonga Road in Nakasero Kampala.

He confirms arrest of Turinawe and her detention at Kasangati police station.

11:43: Detectives confide in our news desk they have launched a hunt for all top opposition leaders. They include MP Mathius Mpuuga and Francis Mwijukye (FDC youth boss).

11:30: Ingrid Turinawe is finally picked up by police from her Gayaza home. Turinawe attempts to out-pace police in a driving race. She is nailed at the Gayaza junction and forced out of her car. Cops spent five hours planning her arrest.

Police use teargas and live bullets to disperse angry opposition supporters. At least two, including a police officer, are injured in the fracas. Protestors hurl stones at cops.

Turinawe is detained at Kasangati police station.

5:00: A special team of detectives and anti-riot police have today January 16 cordoned off Ingrid Turinawe’s home in Gayaza, a Kampala suburb.

The move followed intelligence reports that Activists for Change (A4C) planned to re-launch the walk-to-work protests in Kampala.

FDC party is expected to brief press today, announcing the resumption of walk-to-work, a political activity aimed at causing regime change.

Chimreports.com news desk is informed Police moved swiftly on Turinawe to deny leadership to potential protestors.

Turinawe is facing treason charges. She was last month released on bail after spending a staggering two months at Luzira prison.

Police spokesperson Asuman Mugyenyi says Turinawe is under preventive arrest because she told A4C members during a beach party yesterday there would be a press conference today for W2W reloaded.the return to walk to work.

A4C members gathered at Aer beach in Entebbe last night where they announced

Mugenyi says A4C intend to hold a march to Katwe Trading Centre.

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