August 31, 2011 / 5:23 PM / in 6 years

Ugandan police ban North Africa-solidarity rally

KAMPALA (Reuters) - Ugandan police on Wednesday banned an opposition rally planned to congratulate North Africans for toppling oppressive leaders, saying it would incite violence.

Uganda's Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) leader Kizza Besigye (L) talks to anti-riot policemen before his arrest at Kasangati suburb of the capital Kampala, April 11, 2011. REUTERS/Edward Echwalu

Pressure group Activists 4 Change wants to hold a rally in the capital Kampala on Friday to “celebrate people power in North Africa” following the overthrow of the leaders of Tunisia, Libya and Egypt.

The group has emailed invitations accompanied by a flyer featuring photos of the toppled rulers crossed out -- with Uganda’s long-serving President Yoweri Museveni lined up as the next to go.

Uganda has been rocked by anti-governments protests since April, provoked by anger over rising food and fuel prices.

A government crackdown to quell protests in April and May killed nine people and injured hundreds, eliciting condemnation by local and international rights groups.

Police spokesman Vincent Sekate said in a statement that the police were blocking the rally because of a dispute over the premises and the fact that it was next to a highway.

But he added: “Furthermore, the purpose of the rally is likely to incite the public into violence.”

The opposition has in the past refused to heed police warnings against holding political rallies, accusing the security force of allowing itself to be used by Museveni to persecute his political opponents.

Museveni has criticised what he calls Western meddling in African affairs in reference to NATO’s backing of Libyan rebels. In power since 1986, has come under mounting international censure for his growing authoritarianism.

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