By Frank Kamuntu
Kampala: Following the arrest of National Unity Platform Presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu for allegedly flaunting Covid-19 guidelines while campaigning in Northern Uganda’s Luuka district, a couple of protests have been recorded from Kampala and other districts from different regions that have left many injured and others dead.
It is against that background that police through its statement about Kyagulanyi’s arrest has warned Ugandans to secure their lives by keeping away from political protests since police have started tough enforcements against candidates defying EC guidelines.
Police’s Statement Reads;
“We would like to inform the public that the Joint Security Task Force in Busoga North, today arrested the NUP Presidential candidate, Hon. Kyagulanyi Ssentamu Robert, for his continued violations of the Electoral Commission and Ministry of Health guidelines, during the political campaigns.
He was arrested together with Pastor Muwanguzi Andrew at around 11:30am, at the Ssaza Grounds, Luuka Town Council in Luuka District. The two were actively involved in the massive mobilization of unauthorised assemblies and processions amidst the threat of Covid-19 in Uganda. The majority of the participants had no safeguards of facemasks, physical distancing and proper hygiene.
They were immediately transferred to Nalufenya Police Station, where they were being interrogated on charges of negligent conduct likely to spread infectious disease, obstruction, incitement to violence and holding unauthorized assemblies.
In the course of their transportation, 5 other violent suspects were arrested too. These included; Ssenono Denis alias Deni-City, resident of Keti Falawo, Kawempe; Semanda Brian of Nakilagala Budo; Matovu Adam, Tenywa Jamali of Kyamagwa Jinja; and Akol Stephen, A Security guard from Kiira Road.
In a separate development, the FDC presidential candidate, Eng. Patrick Oboi Amuriat was also arrested from Gulu, as he was planning to hold an unauthorized procession, in Gulu City. He has since refused to record a statement.
All along with the NUP presidential candidate and his party members, sought to undermine the integrity of the Electoral Commission, by refusing to abide by the peaceful conduct of the campaigns. His campaign trail from West Nile, to Acholi sub Region, Teso, Bugisu and Busoga, raised stakes for possible riots and public disorder.
The arrest as anticipated by our Joint Intelligence components sparked off incidents of violent demonstrations especially in the areas of Masaka, Jinja, Kampala city and its suburbs of Bwaise, Kyaliwajjala, Nabweru, Kalerwe, Nansana and Mukono.
In Mityana, we blocked a group of youth who were being transported to reinforce colleagues in Kampala. The violent demonstrators set up illegal roadblocks and burnt tyres violently attacked law enforcement personnel in the city Centre. We have also registered other crimes of looting, vandalism and robbery by hooligans who take advantage of these violent demonstrations.
We do strongly condemn the tactics used by NUP and those groups that continue to breach the Electoral Commission guidelines during the campaigns. Such acts only promote further violence and lawlessness amidst the threats of Covid-19. We believe it is one of the steps to prepare their adherents into inciting violence and further accelerate their goal of a civil uprising like they have always threatened.
It is unfortunate that three innocent lives have been lost as a result of the violent fracas in the city. These include; Mwanje Sandi, a 35-year-old male adult of Katwe, Juma Sendagire, a 27-year-old male adult of Lusanja Kitezi and Amasi from Kubbiri. We do extend our sympathies to their families. The cause of death will be revealed after conducting a post mortem examination.
A total of 34 people sustained injuries during the violent confrontations and were rushed to Mulago National Referral hospital for further medical attention.
The Joint Security Task Force shall not allow for such acts of violence to escalate into a civil crisis. Our quick reaction, CCTV monitoring and crowd control dispersal teams managed to suppress the violent groups with teargas and other non-lethal weapons. Several suspects have been arrested and will be screened once the operations have normalized.
We are, therefore, requesting members of the public to stay calm, as we counter the violent demonstrators. We urge all voters to know that it is their democratic right to support candidates of their choice. They should, therefore, avoid such violent confrontations to achieve that goal.
As we conclude, we want to remind all candidates to ensure they observe the guidelines that were issued by the Electoral Commission. They were meant to help candidates campaign safely and reduce the risks of covid-19 transmission.
We are confident we shall counter all these threats aimed at disrupting the electoral process and deliver a peaceful campaign to all Ugandans.”