11 June 2018

Uganda: Abiriga Burial Programme Interrupted Over Security Concerns

Photo: Michael Kakumirizi/Daily Monitor
Mourners carry the casket bearing the remains of Ibrahim Abiriga in Arua town.

RHINO CAMP- The chaos that on Sunday greeted the arrival of the body of slain Arua Municipality Member of Parliament Ibrahim Abiriga forced security planners to overnight cancel planned prayers and a special district council meeting in Arua town to honour him.

The bodies of Abiriga and that of his brother Saidi Buga Kongo, with whom he was shot dead in Kawanda in Wakiso District, on Friday, were moved out of the Anyafiyo residence on the outskirt of Arua town at dawn and driven to their ancestral home in Rhino Camp.

Their burial to be attended by President Yoweri Museveni is slated to take place on Monday afternoon.

On Sunday, the town erupted in violence as mourners, who removed the bodies from a funeral service van and carried them shoulder high, turned to indiscriminately hurl stones and destroy property.

Security forces fired teargas and bullets, injuring some people, to disperse rowdy residents who broke dozens of plastic chairs and pulled down tents erected for mourners at Abiriga's home.

They wailed uncontrollably, cursed the government they blamed for the legislator's death and shouted that "ale yelo ku (we don't want yellow)", a reference to the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party's official colour.

Police and army deployed heavily in the night and placed the town under a lock-down.

Arua Resident District Commissioner, Mr Peter Debele says the overnight decision to take the body straight to Rhino Camp was made by Parliament.

Mr Chris Obore, Parliament's Communications director, however, says he is not in the know.

"I am not aware of that decision. You could find more from (State Internal Affairs minister) Hon Obiga Kania," he said in a text message reply.

In Arua, the State Minister for Internal Affairs, Mr Mario Obiga Kania says the abrupt programme change was informed by time constraints since the head of state is attending.

"The President has other programmes and he would wish to attend the burial early," he says.

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