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Police deploy heavily as opposition demo flops

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Ms Musumba

CORNERED? Ms Musumba (R) talks to journalists in Kampala yesterday as armed police officials keep close watch. PHOTO BY STEPHEN WANDERA 

By Risdel Kasasira & Andrew Bagala

Posted  Tuesday, January 5   2010 at  00:00

In Summary

The Opposition have vowed to organise a surprise demonstration after one planned for yesterday was foiled by heavy Police deployment. The demonstration was against the closure of CBS radio and the renewal of work contracts for top Electoral Commission officials.

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Kampala

The Opposition have vowed to organise a surprise demonstration after one planned for Monday was foiled by heavy Police deployment. The demonstration was against the closure of CBS radio and the renewal of work contracts for top Electoral Commission officials.

But members of the four main opposition political parties under the Inter-Party Cooperation (IPC), woke up to a rude awakening when they discovered armed police officers manning all areas of interest, blocking a planned rally before it could even start. The Police reportedly began deploying before midnight.

Police chief Kale Kayihura told reporters on Monday that he “did not regret” the heavy deployment. But FDC spokesperson Wafula Oguttu told journalists at the party head offices in Najjanakumbi, Kampala, that they would soon organise “surprise civil action” to show their displeasure with the government.

“The IPC steering committee had a meeting today (Monday) and we resolved to start organising civil action against the Electoral Commission and the clamp down on the freedom of press. We jointly agreed to have series of action throughout year,” Mr Oguttu said.

Earlier on Monday morning, opposition leaders met at the Nakasero office of the FDC Vice Chairman (western), Mr Chapaa Karuhanga, which was surrounded by the police, who had also deployed on nearby Katonga Road; which was to serve as the flagging point for the demonstration. After the meeting, top FDC official Salaamu Musumba told journalists that the planned demonstration would resume at “a later date”. “We cannot go ahead with the demonstration because these cowards (police) have surrounded us,” Ms Musumba.

However during a press conference at the Media Centre, the Police chief claimed he received the letter on the day of the planned demo. “We shall not allow anarchy here. Why didn’t they inform me earlier to help them prepare for their demonstration? They want to use the cover of demonstration to cause chaos,” he said, adding that for any demonstration to take place, he should be informed seven days in advance.

Additional reporting by G. Bareebe & Anna-Maria Penu