Opposition leaders yesterday insisted they will lead today’s ‘walk-to-work’ campaign despite a police warning that the campaign was illegal.
The demonstration is part of Activists for Change (A4C), a wider civil defiance campaign, aimed at championing change in the country – in protest against what the opposition calls a continued flawed electoral process.
The opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) leader, Dr Kizza Besigye, and Conservative Party president John Ken Lukyamuzi with opposition Members of Parliament are set to walk from their residences to their offices to supposedly identify with the suffering Ugandans who can no longer afford the country’s rising cost of living.
Masaka Municipality MP-elect Mathias Mpuuga, who announced the launch of the campaign said it will be a gesture of identifying with suffering Ugandans who can no longer afford taxi fare, food and fuel.
Police Chief, Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura has been locked in meetings all through the weekend with senior police commanders in a bid to come up with counter-measures in respect to the campaign.
Addressing the press in Naguru yesterday, Gen. Kayihura said the demonstration contravenes Section 42 of the Constitution. He added that what Dr Besigye and other opposition members are trying to do was “unacceptable and arrogant”. “I would like to caution any persons organising these illegal activities that, as custodians of the public interest, the Police shall not allow them to take place,” he said.
He added: “Police has reliable intelligence that, rather than a peaceful walk, there are plans of disrupting normal life within Kampala City, create chaos and make the capital city, and by extension, the country, ungovernable”.
“We will use reasonable force, if need be,” Gen. Kayihura said.
But Dr Besigye insisted on implementing their planned “peaceful and non-partisan” demonstrations advising that Ugandans should be left to express their constitutional rights. “Kayihura is deliberately misinforming the country. Those concerned about the suffering of the people due to the runaway inflation caused by the stealing of money and abuse of funds by public officials should walk to their offices tomorrow [today]. It is an individual decision through a path that one will choose to take,” he said.
He said walking to one’s place of work cannot warrant police permission. “He [Kayihura] is just being ridiculous to suggest that this is something we should discuss with him. This has nothing to do with assemblies and I hope Ugandans will rebuke him because what he is trying to do is a total abuse of his office and should be denounced by all rightful thinking Ugandans,” he said. Dr Besigye is expected to walk from his home in Kasangati to FDC offices in Najjanankumbi.
Mr Lukyamuzi is expected to walk from his home in Kabaawo Zone in Lubaga to the city centre while DP’s Betty Nambooze is expected to walk from Mukono to Kampala via the Northern bypass. Other opposition leaders will walk from Ntinda, Bwaise and Mengo to the city centre.
Maj. Gen. Kayihura however insists Dr Besigye is unreasonable. “If he was genuine, he should have involved the police in planning this walk. Why does he want to bring this country to the brink of violence,” the police chief said, adding that intelligence had since discovered that there were plans to paralise operations in the city.
Opposition leaders yesterday sent out messages to their supporters urging them to participate in the walk. “We are investigating the motive of these messages,” Maj. Gen Kayihura said, adding that police had arrested several suspects distributing ‘disturbing fliers’.
DP Secretary General Mathias Nsubuga said they are sending the government a message to intervene and curb the rising prices of basic goods and stop unrealistic purchases like fighter jets and military hardware at the expense of Ugandans.