The Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) has ordered for the arrest and punishment of soldiers who "molested some journalists" while deployed in the city.
PIC: There was unrest in the heart of the city on Monday as security forces intervened to quell protests. (Credit: Patrick Kibirango)
KAMPALA - The Ugandan army has expressed its "displeasure" over the "unprofessional conduct" of soldiers who attacked journalists during an operation in the city.
Over 120 people were arrested Monday as security forces engaged rioters mainly in the capital Kampala and Mukono municipality.
The Police and military spent the entire day in running battles with the protesters.
Police spokesperson Emilian Kayima appealed to the public to desist from engaging in riots and demonstrations, which he said were unlawful, unacceptable and criminal. He said journalists who were arrested in the riots would be screened and released.
Kayima asked media houses to give details of their employees who had been affected.
Journalists told Kayima that their colleagues, including James Akena, a photojournalist attached to news agency Reuters, were arrested and harassed by the military and later detained at the Central Police Station in Kampala.
Security forces were deployed within the city on Monday. (Credit: Patrick Kibirango)
In the aftermath of Monday's clashes, the Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF) has come out strongly on the conduct of some of its own in the operation.
"Attention has been brought to the leadership of the UPDF about the unprofessional conduct of soldiers who molested some journalists while deployed on a joint operation in the capital city on Monday, August 20, 2018," UPDF spokesperson Brig. Richard Karemire said in a statement Tuesday.
"UPDF wishes to express its displeasure over such behaviour by those individuals, and as a result, the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) has ordered for their arrest and punishment.
"While expressing apologies and sympathies to the individuals on whom pain was inflicted, we wish to reiterate our strong commitment to maintain a strong partnership with the media fraternity in the course of executing all our core functions as laid out in the Constitution," the statement said further.
An eyewitness who asked not to be named said the protests were started in Kisekka Market by a group of youth.
"It started as a joke, when some youth started playing Bobi Wine's songs. The music attracted a number of people who started burning tyres in the middle of the road while chanting his slogan 'People Power'," he said.
The rioters claimed they were protesting the continued detention of MPs, including Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine (Kyadondo East), who is in military confinement at Makindye in Kampala.
Some of them held placards and T-shirts emblazoned with inscriptions 'Free Bobi Wine'.
Bobi Wine was last week charged before the General Court Martial over unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition.
The riots affected business, especially in the central business district, as traders closed shops fearing looting or destruction of their merchandise.
'Police does not intend to arrest Zaake'
Meanwhile, Kayima said Mityana Municipality MP Francis Zaake was not dumped at Rubaga Hospital as per reports on social media.
He said the legislator was arrested together with other MPs and detained in Arua, but he asked to be referred to a medical facility for treatment.
Kayima said Zaake asked to see a doctor because he was not well, however, "he either escaped from hospital or he was aided to escape".
He added that the Police were not aware of how Zaake left the hospital to reach Rubaga in Kampala. He said although he had earlier on committed an offence, the Police were not after arresting him.
"We do not intend to rearrest him. It is life first, we shall allow him to receive treatment and other details will come later," Kayima said.