Army and police units yesterday used tear gas, bullets and truncheons to break up protests against rising food and fuel prices around the country, leaving at least one person dead in Kampala, and bringing the death toll to four in three days.
Mr Frank Mugisha, who reportedly died after being attacked in Kasangati, is the first person to die in Kampala. Last week, at least three people were killed in the northern district of Gulu during protests.
While police authorities said that Mr Mugisha was ill, Ms Robina Nakku, one of the eye witnesses, said: “That man (Mugisha) was first beaten by the military and when police came, they fired tear gas at him, he collapsed and was picked up by the Uganda Red Cross volunteers and later died on his way to Kasangati Hospital.”
Uganda Red Cross last evening confirmed the death and other cases of people hit by bullets. At least four people in Kireka, including two pregnant women, were taken to hospital. In Namugongo, a civilian suffered gunshot wounds to the head while five others sustained severe injuries in Kasangati. In Mukono, four men were hit by rubber bullets and taken to Mulago Hospital.
The walk-to-work campaign again spread to several districts, and saw several opposition leaders arrested. Democratic Party leader Norbert Mao was sent to Luzira prison until May 2 after he declined bail.
For the first time since the campaign started on April 11, uniformed soldiers were deployed in parts of Kampala other than just Kasangati, Dr Kizza Besigye’s neighbourhood. Uniformed soldiers and police conducted joint operations in the city and major towns across the country.
Plain-clothed security also took part, although they were accused, by the police, of shooting a man in Kireka.
Police said yesterday they arrested 104 people, 50 of whom were charged with holding illegal assembly and inciting violence. Dr Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change and Mr Olara Otunnu of the Uganda Peoples Congress, were among opposition leaders charged with inciting violence and rioting after proclamation among other crimes. They were later freed on bail.
“I am going to walk-to-work on Thursday because nobody has said what I’m doing is wrong. I have a right to walk or I don’t – otherwise if they just stop me and there is some commotion and they charge me with that commotion, what kind of justice can that be? They have never brought me to court to say that my attempt to walk to town is an offence,” Dr Besigye said.
In Arua, Mbarara, Kibaale, Hoima, Mbale, Entebbe, Wakiso, Soroti, Kabarole and Gulu districts, the military deployed heavily. Traffic on the Jinja-Kamuli road was paralysed by protesters for several hours. And like in Kampala areas of Kireka, Kasangati, Bweyogerere, Makindye and Kinawataka, were they engaged police in running battles in Jinja.
Jinja’s Bugembe township saw taxi drivers and boda boda cyclists join members of the public in blocking the Jinja- Iganga highway which connects Uganda to Kenya. They were dispersed by riot police.
Elsewhere, the FDC chairman in Hoima, Ismael Kasule; a former FDC candidate for Hoima woman parliamentary seat, Asinasi Nyakato; and Mr Pascal Alinaitwe were detained by police. Kibaale FDC chairman Ayebale Kanyarutooke was also bundled onto a police pick-up truck as he walked bare foot to the FDC offices in Kagadi town from his residence in Kyenzige Trading Centre. He was released on police bond after three hours.
Reported by Yasiin Mugerwa, Gerald Bareebe, Al-Mahadi Ssenkabirwa, Philippa Croome Anthony Wesaka, Warom Felix Okello, David Mafabi, Andrew Bagala, Alfred Tumushabe Juliet Kigongo & Martha Musiimenta