Yesterday, three people were killed by Kenyan police in the first of three days of demonstrations against the Kibaki government. It is likely there will be more violence today. It doesn’t look like Odinga is going to give up and go away any time soon. Kenya is right next door to Uganda, so there has been some spillover of the violence and other problems.
(In case you haven’t been following the Kenya election story, Kibaki is widely believed to have stolen the election. His opponent Raila Odinga is protesting the results with marches and demonstrations until Kibaki steps down. There’s been fighting between the major ethnic groups, Kikuyu and Luo, and several hundred people have died. There has also been some violence and more threatened as Odinga’s forces try to hold mass demonstrations to protest the election fraud. Police have shot some demonstrators, and declared all such gatherings illegal. Most people I’ve talked to here have no doubt that Kibaki stole the election. They say it’s happened here too.)
The fallout in Uganda so far has been slight. The biggest impacts are several thousand refugees in the border towns, and a fuel shortage that has put a big crimp in transportation all over Uganda. Most of Uganda’s petroleum comes by truck from Mombasa, and road traffic from Kenya has been pretty much shut down for the past three weeks. Some trucks are getting through, and some alternate supply routes through Tanzania are being opened up. But the price of fuel is still high, and the overall economy has slowed considerably. If the fuel shortage continues, it will affect jobs, prices, tax revenues, and foreign investment. Because about half of Uganda’s electricity comes from burning oil, there’s less electricity to go round. So that means even more sporadic power supplies.
The fuel shortage has brought some improvements to my life. The air is noticeably cleaner and there’s less traffic, so breathing is easier and bicycle riding on Hoima road is a little less hazardous. On the other hand the supply of mangoes in Nakasero Market has become unreliable, and the prices are going up.