By John Semakula
Former president of Forum for Democratic Change , Kizza Besigye ran into a Police ambulance as a bunch of youth rained stones and sticks on him in Kawempe. He had gone to address a rally. What followed was a scuffle between pro-and anti-Besigye supporters.
Besigye was in Kawempe on the invitation of Kampala Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago, who reportedly convened the rally to collect views from the electorate on matters of city governance.
Drama ensued as soon as the two politicians arrived at Kawempe Muslim Primary School grounds, accompanied by deputy Lord Mayor Sulaiman Kidandala and Kawempe Mayor Mubarak Munyagwa.
A mob of over 300 youth referring to themselves as residents of Kawempe Division stormed the grounds. Carrying sticks, stones and anti-Lukwago placards, the youth said they were tired of chaos in the city. They dismantled the mobile van, destroyed the public address systems and chased away whoever they found at the scene.
They also smashed the windscreen of Lukwago’s car. As stones rained and sticks whizzed, Lukwago and Besigye fled into a Police ambulance and were driven to Kawempe Police Station, where they were detained briefly.
Since the incident, Lukwago’s supporters have been throwing the blame at the Police, arguing that the cops connived with hooligans to disrupt the rally. Similarly, Mukasa Kivumbi, the MP for Butambala County, said it was an act of harassment by the state. They wondered why the Police did not arrest the stick-wielding youth.
“But that was a very small incident which we are going to sort out. We shall defeat the state and its Police,” Kivumbi said.
Ingrid Turinawe, an opposition activist, accused the Police of trying to stifle the opposition in order to keep President Yoweri Museveni in power. She argues that even if the youth do not like Besigye and Lukwago, they did not have a right to disperse them.
“Ugandans may be forced to resist such kind of uncivilised behaviour,” she said.
However, Police have dismissed the accusations. The Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson, Ibin Sekumbi, said the Police did not condone the act, referring to it as unfortunate. He said the Police had sanctioned the rally and could, therefore, not turn around to disrupt it. He said if anyone can identify the culprits, the Police will arrest them.
“It was not the first time youth in Kawempe tried to beat up their leaders. Some time back they wanted to beat up Munyagwa for failing to perform,” he said.
Sekumbi said there was now urgent need by the Government to pass the Public Order Management Bill to help deal with such chaos. However, the opposition criticises the Bill, saying it infringes on human rights.
The Uganda People’s Congress vice-president, Joseph Bbosa, accused the Government of hiring the youth to attack Besigye.
“If those thugs were simply hooligans, how could Police stand and watch as they beat up other Ugandans?” Bbosa asked.
But State House spokesperson Tamale Mirundi blamed the chaos on in-fighting within the opposition, adding that Besigye had failed in his attempt to mobilise Kampala youth against President Museveni.
He added that city youths were tired of Besigye’s false promises and had decided to turn their guns against him.