Monday January 23 2012

Peaceful A4C Kireka rally turns rowdy

Police block Dr Besigye from accessing the city at Spear Motors junction at the weekend.

Police block Dr Besigye from accessing the city at Spear Motors junction at the weekend. Photo by Isaac Kasamani 

By John Njoroge

A peaceful Activist for Change (A4C) public rally held at the weekend in Kireka, Kampala suburb, ended on a sour note when police fired tear gas to disperse a large crowd that was accompanying A4C officials to the city centre.

In an unfortunate turn of events, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) leader Dr Kiiza Besigye, A4C coordinator Matthias Mpuuga, Kyaddondo East MP Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, and Busiro South MP Medard Segona were temporarily blocked by police from accessing the city centre through the Nakawa area.

The 3 pm rally was hosted by Mr Nganda at the St James Church grounds.
At the rally, Dr Besigye refuted media reports he was slated to hold talks with President Museveni.

Talks with Museveni

“I cannot talk to thieves,” Dr Besigye said.
He asked the public not to be fearful and called for unity amongst the opposition.

“You the people hold the power. This is not a time for parties. There are two kinds of people in Uganda today; the oppressors and the oppressed. We must unite to fight the oppressor,” Dr Besigye added.

Police had initially overseen the rally without incident.
Chaos, however, started at about6.30pm when a large crowd attempted to accompany the A4C officials to the city centre.

Police formed a blockade at Banda, another Kampala suburb, to stop the mammoth crowd from proceeding with the officials. Police fired tear gas and bullets into the air to disperse the crowd.

There was an apparent conflict of operational orders at the scene on how to handle the swelling crowd. Jinja Road DPC Ashraf Chemonges, who seemed to be the operational commander, initially cautioned his officers not to fire tear gas at the approaching crowd.

But a plan-clothed security operative, however, instructed otherwise even after Mr Chemonges protested against the order. Amid the confusion, police opened fire dispersing the crowd.

Dr Besigye was told not to move in a convoy but refused to comply with it.
At the Spear Motors junction in Nakawa, police patrol pick-ups blocked the A4C officials from proceeding to the city centre through Nakawa.

Kayihura call
Kampala Metropolitan Police Chief Andrew Kaweesi the FDC president to approach the city through Ntinda instead to which Dr Besigye declined.
The situation turned sticky when Dr Besigye’s driver managed to maneuver their way between three police patrol vehicles and drove towards the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) offices, prompting police to give a chase.
For over an hour, Dr Besigye was blocked near URA.

A phone call from the Inspector General of Police Lt. Gen. Kale Kayihura to Mr Kaweesi to speak to Dr Kiiza Besigye later saved the day. “I am the father and mother at home. I am going to the city to by food and do my meetings. I will enter the city through Nakawa,” Dr Besigye told Gen. Kayihura

Minutes later, the police pick-ups that had surrounded Dr Besigye’s vehicle sped off, allowing Dr Besigye to enter the city.