24 May 2019

Uganda: 11 Youth Leaders Arrested in Mbale Over Delayed City Status

Mbale — Police in Mbale District have arrested 11 youth leaders for who were participating in demonstration to protest a Cabinet decision to postpone the elevation of Mbale Municipality to city status until 2021.

Mbale was among the 15 cities that were recenlty approved as regional cities but it was not included in the first lot of cities that will be elevated to city status by 2020.

Municipal council that will become cities by 2020 are Arua, Gulu, Jinja, Fort Portal and Mbarara.

The detained youth leaders are; Mr Yassin Kawanguzi, the deputy speaker of Mbale Municipality; Mr Kassim Madagi, a councillor for Mbale municipality; Mr Yahaya Mwanje, the Mbale youth council chairperson and Mr Abdallah Magambo, the People Power youth leader in Bugisu sub-region.

Others are Mr Nelly Mukasa, former Nauyo Bugema Town Council mayoral aspirant; Mr Hamisi Bukonde and Mr Sam Kimaka.

They were arrested near the Mbale town Clock Tower as they led a procession to the Office of Resident District Commissioner (RDC) to present their grievances over government's failure to list Mbale as one of the towns whose city status will be operationalised in July, 2020.

As they marched, the protesters sung and chatted anti- government slogans before riot police officers, on orders of District Police Commander (DPC), Mr Fred Ahimbisibwe, intervened and fired teargas to disperse them.

Daily Monitor has learnt that some protestors were injured during the fracas. One of them, Mr Mukasa, has been admitted to Mbale Referral Hospital.

Mr Ahimbisibwe said the youth leaders were arrested for holding an illegal demonstration. He, however, did not confirm whether any of them was injured.

"We have arrested them for holding an illegal demonstration contrary to the Public Order Management Act," he said.

Mr Ahimbisibwe said the suspects would be charged with offences like inciting violence, blocking traffic flow, holding illegal assemblies and disobeying lawful orders.

Mr Yahaya Mwanje, National Resistance Movement (NRM) Youth Chairperson in Mbale District, said they are hurt by the decision to delay the elevation of Mbale Municipality to city status despite fulfilling all the requirements.

"We have been promised enough, despised and given crumbs of the national cake. This time, we must say you're either with us or not for us," he said. "It's so demeaning yet we offer support to the NRM government and President Museveni."

Mr Kassim Madagi, another youth leader said such a decision was taken because most MPs from Bugisu region failed to do their job.

"The genesis of our woes is brought by the MPs who cannot debate. They are shy but now we are going to do it ourselves," he said.

Mr Hussein Wamboya, an elder and clan leader in Mbale said they deserve respect because Mbale is a regional business centre serving sub regions like Bukedi, Teso, Karamoja, Sebei and Lira.

Mbale Municipal Council officials led by the mayor, Mr Mutwalibi Mafabi Zandya have stormed Mbale Central Police Station to demand the release of the suspected protestors.

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