Police allowed opposition leaders to hold a public rally in Arua Town on Friday without the violent scenes of gunshots and tear gas that occurred in eastern Uganda recently.
Former Forum for Democratic Change party president Kizza Besigye and other oppositions leaders peacefully launched their drive for free-and-fair-election campaign at Arua Hill Grounds.
Armed police had deployed in the area but later retreated to their base at Police Grounds without any interference. Police had attempted to stop the rally on account that the venue would be used for the Secondary School Football tournament finals, but Terego County MP Mr Kassiano Wadri objected, saying the rally was a national event.
Dr Besigye rallied supporters to join the fight for free and fair elections in 2016.
“Because people in the Movement know that change is coming, they don’t want to collapse with their man. Even when Gen [David] Sejusa ran away, after reaching London, he called me that we need to do something. And I told him ‘yes’ we need to do something together,” Dr Besigye said.
“You (people) need to organise yourselves and send away these people. Do not allow going for another rigged election but free and fair elections because change is coming,” he charged.
Hundreds of people thronged Arua Hill Grounds flashing different party signs as the opposition leaders spoke in turns.
One FDC supporter, Mr Muzamil Ahmed, retorted: “This is a good cause because we cannot have people who are dead, transferred from one polling station to another. And this makes elections meaningless. So if this campaign is successful and government heeds to this call, it would go a long way to ensure democracy in the country.”
The Uganda Peoples Congress party president, Mr Olara Otunnu, said the launch in Arua would strengthen their campaign.
“We want to continue with our programme without any interference from police and Arua is blessed without teargas, pulling people out of radio stations as was done in other districts,” he said.
In the past, the opposition party leaders have suffered the wrath of police as the officers broke their public rallies with tear gas and bullets.
The Arua rally came two days after an understanding between the opposition and the police leaders in Kampala on Wednesday to end violent breaking-up of opposition rallies.
The West Nile regional police commander Mr. Fredrick Ssegirinya said police would only be deployed to ensure peace and security for the opposition leaders.