Uganda’s Mbabazi suspends campaign, lawmakers celebrate arrest

Amama Mbabazi has formerly announced he will challenge President Yoweri Museveni for NRM presidential nomination

Amama Mbabazi has formerly announced he will challenge President Yoweri Museveni for NRM presidential nomination

The former Prime Minister of Uganda has suspended his on and off consultative meetings with voters due to the untimely death of his brother Thursday evening.

Through his Facebook Page, Mbabazi told supporters “my team and I will communicate to you the new schedule of the consultative meetings. We hope to have this new schedule up by Monday”

He goes on to announce his brother’s death and taking time off from the campaign trail “I will be taking time off this weekend to bury my beloved brother and in many ways, my mentor Enock Bahemerwabusha. It saddened me to hear of his demise yesterday evening. His life was well spent in service to Country and family and we will miss him dearly.

Amama Mbabazi Campaign director of media and communication Josephine Mayanja-Nkangi said in a statement Thursday “New dates will be given to the Electoral Commission as soon as they are available. We ask that he and his family be allowed time to grieve.”

Mbabazi’s suspension of “consultative meetings” coincide with him being arrested and detained by the police Thursday morning as he headed to the Eastern town of Mbale to meet with voters.

He was brought back to the Ugandan capital and detained at Kiira Rd Police Station for about four hours and released on bond after recording a statement.  The other presidential hopeful Kiiza Besigye was also arrested and detained, and later on released.

Prior to Mbabazi’s arrest, police had warned him not to go to Mbale lest risk arrest as his meetings with voters were not authorized by his party the governing National Resistance Movement (NRM), and thus illegal.

Mbabazi has however produced documents indicating he had dully notified relevant authorities including the Inspector General of Police, and local authorities in Mbale of his Thursday meetings.

Amama Mbabazi's notification to the police about his consultative meetings in Mbale Town

Amama Mbabazi’s notification to the police about his consultative meetings in Mbale Town

Meanwhile, unlike opposition leaders and legislators who have condemned the former premier and 2016 presidential candidate’s arrest, NRM lawmakers in the Ugandan parliament have welcomed Mbabazi’s arrest, and commended the police in exhibiting professionalism while taking him into custody.

NRM members Friday requested the House to have a round of applause to the arrest of the former prime minister citing his overriding influence in passing the 2013 Public Order Management Act (POMA), the same act the police ostensibly used to arrest and detain him.

“He reaped what he sowed, and what goes around comes around,” the lawmakers were heard saying.

The 2013 controversial bill gave the police unlimited authority to keep public order. Mbabazi lobbied for the bill’s passage while he was still Prime Minister.

Amama Mbabazi is a longtime colleague of President Yoweri Museveni, they have since fallen out.

Although the Ugandan leader was in South Sudan attending their 4th Independence Anniversary celebration in Juba, Mbabazi, in an interview with the BBC blamed his legal troubles on his former boss.