Uganda: 2 Dead, Scores Injured in Election Campaign violence
Tempers flared in the Ugandan capital Kampala, as Police and supporters of the country’s main opposition leader Dr Col Kizza Besigye clashed, in chaos that left two people dead and scores of others seriously injured.
Police fired teargas canisters as it attempted to disperse thousands of Besigye supporters, sparking off a running battle in the city centre and other city suburbs.
The clashes which come just three days to the hotly contested Presidential elections on Thursday were sparked off by the brief arrest of the four- time Presidential candidate by Police as he attempted to hold a campaign rally in the city centre.
Police Spokesperson Fred Enanga stated that police blocked Besigye as he tried to head a procession through the city center, a move that would have disrupted businesses. Besigye was heading a procession from Kamwokya, a Kampala suburb to the city centre and refused to abide by Police directives to use the less busy Mukwano road instead of Jinja Road. He was scheduled to address two rallies in the city center and Makerere University.
“Besigye is at liberty to re-organize his campaign schedules and inform the police accordingly. The Police has the mandate to maintain public order and to create a favorable electoral environment and we urge all the Presidential candidates and the general public to be mindful of the security measures in place,” Enanga said in a statement released on Monday evening by the government run Uganda Media Centre.
“We protest in the strongest terms possible the police brutality towards our supporters and targeting our candidate,” FDC Spokesperson Ibrahim Semujja Nganda shortly after Besigye’s arrest. Besigye was taken to Kiira Road Police Station upon his arrest before being escorted back to his home in Kasangati, in Wakiso District.
Addressing the media at his home, Besigye urged his supporters to remain calm and law abiding, despite harassment and intimidation by the Police.
But through his tweeter page, the Minister for Presidency and Kampala Frank Tumwebaze accused the opposition leader of seeking cheap popularity a head of the polls. “Why a rally in the central business district of Kampala? Besigye was trying to seek publicity just after sensing defeat ahead. Just imagine a rally at Nasser Road? Madness just. Police have a duty to protect all Uganda,” Tumwebaze said in a tweet.
Shops in the central business district remained closed and there remains heavy deployment of anti-riot police and military personnel as tension remains high ahead of the final day of campaigning on Tuesday.
Independent Candidate Amama Mbabazi who was campaigning in Soroti, Teso Sub region condemned the arrest of Besigye and the violence, accusing the Police force of being partisan and called for calm ahead of the polls.
The incumbent President Yoweri Museveni who was campaigning in the Eastern district of Jinja said that Besigye was arrested for defying lawful Police orders when he tried to hold a campaign rally where he was not supposed to. “Besigye is free to campaign but he cannot be allowed to break the law with impunity,” Museveni said.
Museveni, 71 is facing his toughest challenge in his 30 year rule, contesting against his former bush war Doctor Dr Col Kizza Besigye, others are former Premier John Patrick Amama Mbabazi, Professor Venacious Baryamureeba, Dr Abed Bwanika, Elton Joseph Mabirizi , Major General Benon Biraro and the only woman in the race Maureen Kyalya