What could have been a peaceful campaign rally for Go Forward ended in kicks and punches between the supporters of the ruling NRM party and the security detail of John Patrick Amama Mbabazi.
As Mr Mbabazi led a procession through Ntungamo town, a group of NRM enthusiasts lined along the road provoking Mbabazi’s team. However, it was a stone that was thrown at Mbabazi’s security vehicle that sparked the fight and running battles. In a split second, a man from Amama’s security detail pulled the stone thrower, punched him and chaos ensued.
Several others joined him as the ran after the youth in yellow T-shirts with the portrait of NRM Presidential candidate Yoweri Museveni’s picture, that they suspected to have thrown the stones at Mr Mbabazi’s convoy.
Police, which had been deployed to prevent any such occurrences was caught flatfooted and simply looked on. The District Police Commander, Kawonawo Baker, who was at the scene, refused to comment on the incident saying he had no time and was still busy handling the situation. It was therefore not possible for Daily Monitor to ascertain the number of people who were injured.
The altercation was just the climax of a situation that had simmered since morning. At around 2:00pm supporters from the two groups attacked each other in Kitwe town council when NRM supporters tried to block Amama’s procession.
Earlier in the morning, a Land Cruiser Prado with number plates of State House drove Ms Sarah Kagingo, a former State House employee, around Ntungamo town, distributing NRM campaign materials.
This was not the first time NRM supporters come face to face with those of Go Forward. Wherever Mr Mbabazi has gone to campaign, the NRM campaigners led by Maj. Gen. Henry Tumukunde with counter events to demobilize Mr Amama’s supporters. The highlight of Tumukunde’s actions was the landing of a helicopter in Fort Portal at a venue Mr Mbabazi had planned to hold his rally.
The Electoral Commission, at the beginning of the presidential campaigns banned counter rallies but has not responded to complaints from Mr Mbabazi’s team over the same. Even where the images have been telecast on national television, the EC chairman has simply asked police to investigate. No police reports on their findings have been made public. Only over the weekend, the Chief of Defense Forces (CDF) Gen Katumba Wamala, the prisons chief Johnson Byabashaija and police spokesperson, Fred Enanga asked the presidential candidates to conduct a peaceful election, on time and desist from statements that provoke violence, including the campaign of defiance.
When contacted, Mr Yona Musinguzi, NRM flag bearer for Ntungamo said distribution of campaign material which included T-shirts, posters and money, was simply “a normal campaign routine for the party.”
Go Forward campaign coordinator for Kigezi region Mr Mugasira Jackson justified his campaign’s fight back saying, “We have been provoked for long and we had to respond in earnest.”
As national campaigns take shape and tension simmers between competing camps, it remains to be seen whether the EC and police will rein in the offenders for the campaign to remain peaceful.
By press time Mr Mbabazi was still holed in a meeting with his Ntungamo mobilisers and had he was yet to comment on the nasty events.