Police block Walk to Work demos in Mbale and Sironko

Monday April 18 2011

By David Mafabi

Police and the army on Monday deployed heavily along Mbale-Tororo and Bugusege-Sironko roads to quell ongoing walk-to-work protests being staged by the opposition leaders. A section of leaders in Bugisu sub-region led by Mbale LCV chairman Beranrd Mujasi had announced they would be walking on Monday morning to protest the escalating cost of living.

Mr Mujasi’s Hotel Eldima opposite Mbale central police station was by Monday morning surrounded by heavily armed policemen and plain clothed security operatives scaring off the vendors who sell papers from the veranda and motorcycle riders who park around the hotel.

Mr Mujasi who had said he would mobilize NRM supporters and well-wishers in Mbale to start a ‘walk to work’ campaign from Busiu to Mbale district local government offices to protest the high prices of essential commodities woke up early in the morning and found his house surrounded by heavily armed policemen and the army.

“I found heavily armed policemen at my home, I just decided to go back in my house came out entered my vehicle and came to work. But this does not solve the problem at all, there is wide spread inflation, high prices of food stuffs, poverty which affects all of us irrespective of political affiliation," Mr Mujasi said.

In Sironko, Police mounted road blocks along the main roads at Nalugaya and Bugusege headed by the DPC Mr Mbasa. The Sironko FDC chairman, Mr. Polly Mugoya said they were walking but that because the people walking are insignificant and have been walking to various places as the only means of transport, police has not arrested anybody.

“People are walking in demonstration of high prices of fuel, food stuffs, inflation and wide spread poverty but because there is no prominent person walking, police even when they have a road block, they can’t differentiate between a person demonstrating and the one just walking. And I think we need a prominent person like Mr. Nathan Nandala Mafabi, Mr. Jack Wamai to come and mobilize us like Mr. Norbert Mao did to Gulu,” said Mr. Mugoya.

When contacted for a comment the police spokesperson Eastern Ms Diana Nandaula consented police had deployed heavily in every district especially the major towns to quell the ‘Walk to Work’ demonstrations andbut that they have so far not arrested anybody.

“We have deployed heavily, we are also on standby monitoring the situation because the demonstration is illegal, we have not been informed in writing about it, they need to give us correct procedures without which we can’t allow,” said Ms Nandaula.

The demonstrations have been part of the Activists for Change [A4C, a wider civil defiance campaign aimed at championing change in the country-in protest against what opposition calls continued flawed electoral process.