U.S. Wants "Reconciliation" Following Deadly Uganda Protests

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Johhnie Carson, in charge of African affairs called Uganda's foreign affairs minister Sam Kutesa to voice U.S. concern over the escalating violence and the brutal arrest of Dr. Besigye, and the mistreatment of other opposition leaders.

[Global: Uganda]

The United States is calling for dialogue and reconciliation between the Uganda government and opposition leaders as scores have been killed in Kampala when an uprising followed the violent arrest of a key opposition leader who was also injured by the secret police.

Estimates of dead range from five to as many as 10, following the violent arrest yesterday of Dr. Kizza Besigye who heads the Forum For Democratic Change (FDC). Opposition leaders launched a walk-to-work campaign three weeks ago amid soaring food and fuel prices and the government clamped down violently after the protests took on a national character.

Opposition leaders also contend Gen. Yoweri K. Museveni stole the February 18 presidential election which was preceded by widespread reports of vote buying, intimidation, and the creation of a bogus voters' roll. Dr. Besigye has been arrested four times now, each time being picked by security forces as he launched his walk-to-work from his home in Kampala. He was flown to Kenya today for treatment of undisclosed injuries, The Black Star News has learned.

Uganda's main private newspaper, The Daily Monitor reported that Gen. Museveni's son Lt. Col. Kainerugaba Muhoozi, who heads the a militia, the Special Forces Group, had taken charge of the operations to quell the uprising in downtown Kampala.

The State Department wouldn't confirm speculation that the U.S. favors the creation of a transitional national unity government but revealed that Johhnie Carson, the top official in charge of African affairs called Uganda's foreign affairs minister Sam Kutesa to voice U.S. concern over the escalating violence and the brutal arrest of Dr. Besigye, and the mistreatment of other opposition leaders.

"I was not privy to the conversation," Leslie Phillips, a State Department spokesperson told The Black Star News today when asked about speculation concerning a national unity government in Uganda.

The opposition parties have called for fresh elections in Uganda and the reintroduction of presidential term limits scrapped by Gen. Museveni, who has been in office for 26 years and is scheduled to be sworn in at a multi-million dollar ceremony May 12.

"The U.S. Department of State has watched with concern the arrest of several former presidential candidates for attempting to carry out peaceful demonstrations in Kampala over the past three weeks that were designed to highlight rising prices," Tanya Powell, another spokeswoman told The Black Star. "We are greatly concerned by the harassment and arrest on April 28 of one of those candidates, Dr. Besigye."

U.S. officials have also reviewed video of the rough treatment of Dr. Besigye and his aides by Uganda's secret police.

"Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson spoke to Ugandan Foreign Minister Kutesa about this on April 28 and urged that the Ugandan Government act in a responsible and civil fashion in dealing with individuals attempting to carry out peaceful protests," Powell added. "He specifically noted the apparent ill treatment of Dr. Besigye during his arrest."

Powell continued: "During the call, Carson urged political outreach and reconciliation to resolve the differences between the government and opposition leaders. He also encouraged space for civil peaceful protests and that government reaction to those protests should be tempered, responsible, and civil."


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