The Uganda Police Force (UPF) has said the motive behind Wednesday’s protests is to cause a civil uprising in Uganda contrary to opposition claims that security was blocking them from carrying out political campaigns.
The protests which precipitated into riots started immediately after National Unity Platform (NUP) candidate Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi was arrested in Luuka Districts where he had scheduled to hold campaign meetings.
Kyagulanyi’s arrest sparked off incidents of violent demonstrations in the country especially in the areas of Masaka, Jinja , Kampala city and its suburbs of Bwaise, Kyaliwajjala , Nabweru, Kalerwe, Nansana and Mukono.
Security agencies including police and the army responded with tear gas and bullets to quell the protests that spread like wildfire until late in the evening.
In a statement released on Wednesday evening, Uganda Police stated that all along, the NUP presidential candidate and his party members, sought to undermine the integrity of the Electoral Commission, by refusing to abide to a peaceful conduct of the campaigns with a goal to cause an uprising noting that his campaign trail from West Nile, to Acholi sub Region, Teso, Bugisu and Busoga, raised stakes for possible riots and public disorder.
“We believe it is one of the steps to prepare their adherents into inciting violence and further accelerate their goal of a civil uprising like they have always threatened” part of the statement reads.
As riots progressed, police claims it blocked a group of youth in Mityana who were being transported to reinforce colleagues in Kampala to actuate their goal as violent demonstrators set up illegal roadblocks and burnt tyres, violently attacked law enforcement personnel in the city Centre.
The statements pins rioters on other crimes of looting, vandalism and robbery by “hooligans” who take advantage of these violent demonstrations.
In the statement, police noted that three innocent were killed in violent fracas in the city including Mwanje Sandi, a 35 year old male adult of Katwe, Juma Sendagire, a 27 year old male adult of Lusanja Kitezi and a one Amasi from Kubbiri. Police however noted that the actual cause of the deceased will be revealed after conducting post mortem examination.
“We do strongly condemn the tactics used by NUP and those groups that continue to breach the Electoral Commission guidelines during the campaigns. Such acts only promote further violence and lawlessness amidst the threats of Covid-19” the statement further notes.
A total of 34 people sustained injuries during the violent confrontations and were rushed to Mulago National Referral hospital for further medical attention, according to police.
“The Joint Security Task Force shall not allow for such acts of violence to escalate into a civil crisis. Our quick reaction, CCTV monitoring and crowd control dispersal teams managed to suppress the violent groups with teargas and other non-lethal weapons. Several suspects have been arrested and will be screened once the operations have normalized” Police spokesperson, CP Fred Enanga said.
We are therefore, requesting members of the public to stay calm, as we counter the violent demonstrators. We urge all voters to know that it is their democratic right to support candidates of their choice. They should therefore, avoid such violent confrontations to achieve that goal.
The development comes at the heels of new and tougher directives issued by the Inspector General of Police Martins Okoth Ochola instructing police officers to enforce COVID-19 prevention guidelines without fear or favor.
Ochola noted that there has been intentional disregard of the health guidelines by politicians with “sinister motives.”
“Despite repeated warnings issued to candidates, their agents and wider public about the negative impact and health risks of holding unauthorized rallies and processions, we continue to witness acts of defiance and total disregard of the EC guidelines. Therefore, those who shall defy these Electoral Commission guidelines with their sinister plans aimed at disrupting the Electoral process will definitely suffer consequences” IGP Ochola stated.