Sunday, May 1, 2011

UPDATE: Kizza Besigye's Press Briefing at Nairobi Hospital

NAIROBI: 12:00 Noon May 1, 2011:    Kizza Besigye and his doctors addressed a press conference today at Nairobi Hospital focusing on his medical condition and the events that led to his hospitalization.  He sat in a wheel chair dressed in a white hospital robe and donned dark shades to protect his eyes from direct bright light which causes him pain. The press conference was arranged by the Hospital in response to numerous requests from the media and the public about Kizza Besigye's medical condition.  A team of senior doctors treating Dr. Kizza Besigye: Dr. Timothy Byahiika (Othopedic Surgeon), Dr. Charles Karyuki (Cardiologist) and Dr. Oscar Onyango (Opthalmologist) were present together with Kizza Besigye's family members and FDC party official Anne Mugisha. 

Dr. Byahiika gave an overview of Kizza Besigye's medical condition, stating the procedures and treatments that the patient had undergone since arriving at the hospital.  They included surgery on the injured fingers and hand to clean tissue and replace wires after the cast was removed.  The Ophthalmologist  cleaned the patient's eyes to remove the residual chemicals in his eye.  The patient was also examined by a cardiologist.  Dr. Byahiika revealed that although they had suspected spinal and chest injuries, a scan had established that there were no fractures and the injuries in his chest and back were on the soft tissue.  He mentioned that the chemicals with which he had been sprayed had affected mainly his eyes, his neck and back.

Dr. Onyango the ophthalmologist, explained that it was the left eye which was most affected by the chemicals.  He added that the nature of the chemicals used could not be established and it was not clear whether they were acidic or alkaline or if it was pepper spray to which he was exposed for a long duration without treatment.  The Ophthalmologist added that Kizza Besigye had recovered 'reasonable' vision but still needed close supervision.  They hoped he would be discharged in 4 - 5 days depending on the progress of his recovery.

Kizza Besigye thanked the press for coming and apologized for being unclear in speech due to persistent hiccups which have lasted over 12 hours.  His statement focused on the events leading up to his arrest emphasizing the peaceful, non-partisan and non-violent nature of the activities in which he had been invited to participate by Activists for Change.  He recounted the circumstances leading to his four recent arrests and gave a detailed account of the final violent arrest.  Besigye explained that a hammer used by security personnel to break the car window closest to him last Thursday had fallen through and hurt his right thigh.  Chemicals were sprayed at him and his aides from both sides of the crushed car windows and the second burst of spray from the window closest to him had gone directly in his eyes after which he buckled with his head down.  He said his neck and back were then drenched with spray as he remained in that buckled position with extreme pain in his eyes and scalding on the neck and ears which were more exposed than his back.

Kizza Besigye remained still until he felt he was suffocating and he then staggered out of the car unable to see.  He added that he barely remembered being dragged onto the back of the pick up truck as he was in a semi conscious state and only recalls becoming fully conscious while on the moving truck which was bumping him from side to side.  He also could not open his eyes which were in a lot of pain.  He was hauled to a police station and left laying on a floor for hours before his sister Dr. Olive Kobusingye came in to administer first aid. He was later taken to a private hospital in Kampala where the doctors recommended further treatment abroad.

Kizza Besigye recounted his trip from Uganda for which he had sought clearance with the authorities but was surprised when a security official still intercepted him at the airport and delayed his departure for the urgent medical treatment that he needed.

Kizza Besigye denied allegations that he had been carrying any chemical sprays or other weapons in his vehicle at the time of his arrest and thanked the media for capturing the incident in detail because they could  give a true account of what happened at the scene of his arrest.  He reminded journalists that all the trouble surrounding his walk to work started after police tries to stop him.  He urged supporters not to engage in any vindictive acts to avenge his violent treatment by the police and security last Thursday - even as they continue with the peaceful protests against the pertaining social and economic situation prevailing in the country.