16 February 2016

Uganda: Police Block Besigye Rally As One Is Killed, Scores Injured

Photo: Monitor
One of Besigye's supporters is dragged away by police at Wandegeya in Kampala.

Kampala — FDC presidential candidate Kizza Besigye failed to hold any of his Kampala rallies yesterday after he and his supporters were intercepted by police on his way to a rally in Kisenyi.

Many were injured. However, one man, according to pictures taken by Daily Monitor, sustained what looked like fatal injuries as the police battled Dr Kizza Besigye's supporters at Wandegeya after the Forum for Democratic Change presidential candidate was blocked from campaigning in the city centre.

The police officers on duty at Wandegeya all declined to speak on whether there were deaths and on the number of injured.

Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesman Patrick Onyango, however, confirmed that one person only identified as Daniel was found dead at Wandegeya after the scuffle, but he was evasive on whether he died after he was shot.

"The body has been taken to Mulago mortuary but we haven't yet established what led to his death. We will only establish after carrying out the autopsy," he said.

An officer in charge of an ambulance belonging to the Red Cross told Daily Monitor they had by 6pm given first aid to eight injured persons, who they had then referred to Mulago hospital. This was one of the "about eight" ambulances on duty on the day, the Red Cross official, who declined to be named, said.

One of the injured who the Red Cross had evacuated, the official said, was a female police officer called Florence Asio, who he said was hit with a flying rock. Dr Besigye's supporters were engaged in running battles with the police all evening.

The mess

Dr Besigye's campaigns in the centre of Kampala were interrupted as the police blocked him from accessing the central business district and detained him on two occasions, first at Kira Road Station and later at Wandegeya Police Station.

The now four-time challenger of President Museveni peacefully addressed his first gathering at Kamwokya, which he finished shortly after 10am and headed for Nasser Road, which was supposed to be his next stop.

He intended to drive to town through Wandegeya but the police diverted him to go through Accacia Avenue, to which he yielded after a brief haggle.

At the Jinja Road roundabout, another standoff ensued. Dr Besigye wanted to go through Jinja Road on to Kampala Road and drive down to Nasser Road, where a crowd was already waiting for him as they danced away to Dr Besigye's campaign song, toka kwa Barabara.

The police, then commanded by Kampala Central Police Station boss Aaron Baguma, wanted him to drive through Mukwano roundabout and pass the back of town on to the Clock Tower roundabout.

Dr Besigye insisted on driving to Nasser Road through his pre-planned route. When the road was sealed off, he walked out of his car and walked in the direction of Nasser Road.

The police then let loose a volley of tear gas, with a canister dropping very close to Dr Besigye. He went on his knees choking on the gas, and later dropped to the ground.

A man who was standing close to Dr Besigye was injured on the hand and blood splashed on Dr Besigye's light-blue shirt.

The presidential candidate was protected by his supporters, who on occasions, threw their bodies on to his. He was eventually grabbed and forced into a police pick-up van and driven first to the Central Police Station and later to Kira Road station.

The detention

At Kira road, the number of Dr Besigye's supporters began to swell, demanding the release of their candidate.

Shortly before 1pm, Dr Besigye was put back into the police patrol pick-up van and driven out of Kira road police station at breakneck speed, escorted by another police patrol vehicle. Boda boda cyclists and a vehicle belonging to Kampala Woman MP Nabilah Naggayi gave chase.

They drove through Bukoto, Ntinda, Kisaasi and Kyanja on to Gayaza road. Instead of driving on to Dr Besigye's Kasangati home, they drove him in the direction of Kampala up to Mperere, where they branched off through the dusty road leading to Kiteezi and on to Dr Besigye's home. But there was some drama before the police, then led by Mr Siraje Bakaleke, the regional police commander Kampala South, delivered Dr Besigye back to his home.

Mr Fred Kato, Dr Besigye's driver, had barricaded the path leading to Dr Besigye's home using his car. The police first turned to drive back but turned and drove back just after driving for about one kilometer.

Mr Kato had unblocked the road by then and the police drove Dr Besigye to his house. Mr Bakaleke drove away shortly after dropping the presidential candidate at his gate, leaving a number of policemen at a distance from Dr Besigye's home.

Dr Besigye entered his compound only to tell journalists that he would proceed with his programme as pre-planned.

He urged his supporters to keep calm, saying "the regime is panicking because we are going to defeat them".

He was on the road shortly afterwards, accampagned by Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, gathering a large crowd as he drove along Gayaza road through Kasangati, Mpererwe, Kyebando, Kalerwe, through Makerere and Wandegeya.

Dr Besigye bypassed Makerere University western gate, which some of his supporters thought he would use to access the university, where he was also scheduled to address a rally and a big crowd had already formed in the Freedom Square.

The defiance

The Opposition leader insisted on passing through Wandegeya to the city centre, saying he needed to follow his programme as earlier planned.

After addressing the gathering at Nasser road, Dr Besigye was scheduled to go to Nakasero Market, Arua Park, Kisekka Market, Kagugube and Bukesa before making it to Makerere University.

After Makerere he would proceed to Mini Price, Container Village and Kafumbe Mukasa Road before addressing the main rally on the day at the field of Nabagereka Primary School in Kisenyi.

He, however, did not make it passed Wandegeya.

The police argued that he would not be allowed into the city centre to "disrupt business".

Dr Besigye remained in his car, in the middle of the road towards the traffic lights at Wandegeya, as the police battled his supporters.

At about 6pm, his car was towed to Wandegeya Police Station using one of the police crowd control vehicles. He was still in his car at the time of filing this report.

More on This

Besigye Arrested, Says Party Spokesperson

Police have arrested Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) presidential candidate, Dr Kizza Besigye as he tried Monday to… Read more »

Copyright © 2016 The Monitor. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 1,100 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.