By Spy Uganda
Ugandan police fired tear gas and arrested more than 30 opposition supporters attending a Friday prayer rally organized by musician-turned-politician Bobi Wine. Police say the meeting was illegal as organizers failed to inform the chief of police before holding it.
Those gathered were set to pray for people arrested, dead, abducted and all opposition supporters, especially from Wine’s National Unity Platform (NUP), whose whereabouts are still unknown in the past two years.
Other opposition members included the Conservative Party and the Forum for Democratic Change.
But Luke Owoyesigyire, the deputy spokesperson for the Kampala Metropolitan Police, said that the opposition group did not give the Inspector General of Police Okoth Ochola advance notice about the prayer meeting so he could set up security for it due to ongoing terrorism threats.
“This was a public place,” said Owoyesigyire, “and they ought to have informed the IGP — especially the owners of the venue — should have informed the IGP about this. So, we could not allow them to go ahead with this.”
Owoyesigyire added that “we have some suspects here, at CPS [Central Police Station] but they are more than 30.”
NUP spokesperson Joel Ssenyonyi said that they had paid for the venue but upon their arrival Friday morning, the police and army had cordoned off the venue forcing them to pray from outside.
“When we got there, we saw one of the guys who had the most peeps,” said Ssenyonyi. “We requested him, please come and speak to us. He refused to come. Because we were at the gate, they couldn’t let us in. The law says notify…the law does not say ask for permission. We informed them and asked them to provide security for our function to go on undisturbed because we were going to be indoors.”
In the past two years, especially before the 2021 general elections, a number of opposition supporters have been bundled into vans and taken to both known and unknown detention centers.
While many have returned maimed, claiming torture, many others are suspected to either have died or still be in detention. The opposition said it has provided those names several times to parliament, asserting they are being held by security and demanding in vain that the government provide an explanation.