Uganda police detain nine people for oil pipeline protest

KAMPALA (Reuters) - Uganda police detained nine people protesting against a planned crude oil pipeline on Tuesday, in an escalating crackdown on critics of the project opposed by environmentalists, activists and European Union lawmakers.

Dozens of demonstrators had gathered near the offices of the European Union in the capital Kampala to deliver a petition accusing the government of seizing people's land when police broke up the group.

Nine people were arrested for staging an "illegal demonstration" police spokesman Patrick Onyango said.

"We are charging them with inciting violence," Onyango said.

France's TotalEnergies is the lead developer of the pipeline alongside China's CNOOC and national petroleum firms of Uganda and Tanzania.

The pipeline, estimated to cost $3.5 billion, will run from landlocked Uganda's oilfields in the country's west to a port on Tanzania's Indian Ocean coast.

Environmentalists and rights activists have mounted a campaign to stop the project which they say will displace tens of thousands of people and endanger fragile ecosystems in the region.

Last month the EU lawmakers passed a resolution urging TotalEnergies to delay the project by one year to explore a different route or scrap the project altogether.

In their petition, the protesters accused the Ugandan government of "forced displacement, deforestation and other forms of environmental degradation."

Authorities, the petition said, were also involved in "intimidation of human rights defenders involved in natural resource governance" including arbitrary and illegal arrests of human rights defenders.

The EU Delegation to Uganda said they had received the petition and asked police to release those detained.

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by James Macharia Chege and Frank Jack Daniel)