KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Ugandan police on Thursday placed the country's top opposition leader under house arrest to prevent what authorities said could be a destructive protest march.
Kizza Besigye said that shortly after he left his home he was stopped by police, who gave him a choice between "preventive arrest" and jail or returning home. Besigye returned home and said he would consult his lawyers.
"They have stopped me from moving out of my home. Police told me that I am under preventive detention house arrest," he said.
Besigye has been leading "walk to work" marches to protest government corruption and rising food and fuel costs. The marches have sparked violence between police and protesters. Human Rights Watch says police have killed nine people during the marches.
A police spokeswoman, Judith Nabakooba, said Besigye was placed under house arrest because on Wednesday the opposition leader said he would take part in a walk to work protest. The marches typically happen on Mondays and Thursdays.
"And given the past experiences where vehicles were stoned on the roads and people's property destroyed by the protesters he was leading, we decided to place him under house arrest," Nabakooba said.
Besigye denied allegations from Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni this week that Besigye leads hooligans that want to "ignite riots."
"All protests have been covered by media. I am not aware of throwing of stones at vehicles and police which is not provoked by the police itself," Besigye said.
The police maintained a heavy presence near Besigye's home, patrolling the roads and manning roadblocks.
Uganda has seen sharp spikes in food and fuel prices the last several months, making car or bus travel unaffordable for many. Anger over the increases has fueled Besigye's protests, and security forces have clashed with protesters around the country.
The marches have been the most serious anti-government protests in sub-Saharan Africa this year.
Besigye used to be Museveni's former personal physician, but broke away from the president over what he viewed as problems within government.
(AP PHOTO/Ronald Kabuubi)