31 December 2012

Uganda: Police Fire Teargas As MPs Celebrate Nsereko Release

Police in Mbale clashed with a team of legislators who had stormed Mbale town in a fleet of vehicles to celebrate the release of Kampala Central MP, Mohammed Nsereko.

The MPs including Nandala Mafabi, Geofrey Ekanya, Gerald Karuhanga, Paul Mwiru, Mukasa Mbidde and Nsereko's lawyer Medard Ssegona, entered Mbale town from Tororo at 10:45 through Independence Avenue before veering into Republic Street.

The vehicles kept hooting as the team drove slowly towards Clock Tower. This drew attention of the boda-boda riders and the business community who thronged the streets to witness the drama.

Nsereko, sitting out on the window of the a silver blue Toyota Prado, kept flashing the victory sign as Gerald Karuhanga, the western Youth MP, did the same through the open roof of a white Toyota Prado. A police patrol pickup drove after the convoy and attempted to stop them at clock tower all in vain.

The police force led by Jacob Opolot, the eastern region police commander, used a police vehicle to block the team along Bishop Wasike road as the crowds swelled. Instead, the legislators used Cathedral Avenue and drove back through Naboa road.

Gerald Twisime Byensi, the Mbale DPC, walked towards Mafabi's vehicle and urged the team to proceed on their way to Kampala without distracting business.

But with the crowds already surging towards the scene of the drama, the police fired teargas towards them as crowds reciprocated by pelting the cops with stones and insults.

The convoy drove off towards Nandala Mafabi patrol station on Bugwre road while the crowd and cyclists ran along.

Nsereko was arrested and charged with inciting violence at Tororo magistrate's court on December 28 before being remanded at Morukatipe prisons. The charges were based on comments Nsereko made during the burial of MP Cerinah Nebandah at Butaleja district on December 23.

Addressing the press inside the petrol station offices, Nsereko described his arrest as the beginning of a lengthy struggle to freedom.

"It's just the beginning of a long journey. This struggle is not for us as the legislators but the whole citizenry. Government is using intimidation and torture as a strategy to silence us."

His lawyer, Ssegona said the arrest and Nsereko prosecution of Nsereko was meant to intimidate independent-minded legislators.

"This is a show of tyranny and this will continue as long as the populace accepts to be subdued. What Government is trying to do is to ensure that our lips are glued and we allow corruption and other Government abuses to continue in the country. We will not allow that to reign,"

Diana Nandaula, the eastern regional police spokesperson explained that police intercepted the legislators so they couldn't carry on a rally in town.

"The arrangement was that they just pass through the town and proceed on their way to Kampala not to make stopovers in town. But we learnt that they were planning to hold a rally in town and create a chaotic situation. That's why we intervened," Nandaula said.

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