Uganda police deny killing, harassing Mbabazi supporters, staffers

Family and friends say believe Mbabazi's aide Christopher Aine is dead and died at the hands of the Uganda police but the police the dead body image has been "doctored". According to the police, he is still alive, missing and wanted by the authorities

DEAD OR ALIVE?: Family and friends believe Mbabazi’s aide Christopher Aine is dead and died at the hands of the Uganda police but the police the dead body image has been “doctored”. According to the police, he is still alive, missing and wanted by the authorities

The Police in Uganda have come out and refuted claims by Presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi that the force is brutalizing and killing his supporters and members of his campaign team.

This comes after Mbabazi issued a detailed and lengthy statement condemning the police and government repressive tendencies against his supporters and campaign staff.

“This is to inform Ugandans, both at home and abroad, that an offensive is presently being waged against my supporters, as well as those who volunteer their time to work as coordinators and/or mobilisers for my campaign. In the last month alone, dozens who identify with the Go Forward campaign in one way or another, have been assaulted, arrested, “disappeared” and even killed,” Mbabazi said Thursday.

Responding to Mbabazi’s statement, and to reports that his head of security detail Christopher Aine was recently found dead under mysterious circumstances, the police categorically dismissed all as unfounded and baseless.

“The statement of Hon. Mbabazi is devoid of truth; it is misleading, inciting and calculated to arouse unnecessary anxiety in the public. It is unfortunate that the statement is made by a presidential candidate,” Fred Enanga, Uganda Police Spokesman said in statement Friday.

Mr. Enanga also warned the Ugandan media not to publish recent images showing a dead Christopher Aine, Mbabazi’s aide saying the images are not authentic and that according to the Mr. Aine is still missing and wanted by the police. The police also appealed to the Ugandan public not to believe social media reports and images of the ‘deceased’ Aine until circumstances surrounding his disappearance or death are investigated and verified.

Aine’s images circulating on social media, and mainstream media outlets in Uganda have ignited public outcry and condemnation of the police and security forces. Mbabazi’s statement, the images, and media reports of harassment and intimidation subjected to opposition candidates and their supporters in Uganda  have put the police and government on the defensive.

As Ugandans prepare to go to the polls February 18th to elect the East African country’s next president, the issue of police brutality is grabbing international headlines and rights organizations have repeatedly called on the government to rein in the police and security forces.

“The Ugandan authorities must put an immediate end to the harassment and torture of political opponents and urgently, thoroughly and transparently investigate the use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrators. Anyone found responsible for these violations must be brought to justice,” Muthoni Wanyeki, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes said in December.