Police disperse tribute rally for protest victims

Thursday August 18 2011

By Ephraim Kasozi & Andrew Bagala

It was a fresh memory of the pink-water-day when the Police showered opposition politicians with sprays of coloured water and teargas yesterday as they broke up a rally organised to remember those who were shot dead, injured or imprisoned during the April walk-to-work protests.

The large contingent of policemen who flooded the Kireka suburb outside Kampala, also let off volleys of live ammunition from semi-automatic weapons to disperse politicians. Among the politicians was Leader of Opposition in Parliament Nandala Mafabi who together with Kyaddondo East MP Ibrahim Ssemujju were standing by.

There were confrontations between the police and a group of people who demanded the security personnel to vacate the scene, accusing them of causing violence in their area. An unidentified man was arrested in the early afternoon chaos and driven to an unknown place as business remained closed at the trading centre.

Activists for Change (A4C) members who had called the rally in partnership with Mr Ssemujju, were earlier told they could not assemble in the taxi park because it was deemed a security risk. “This is for the innocent Ugandans who lost their lives at the hands of the State during the walk-to-work protests. We are going to light candles, pray for their families and those who were imprisoned,” Mr Ssemujju who addressed a brief rally before his supporters were dispersed, said.

Kampala Metropolitan police publicist Ibin Ssenkumbi said: “We could not accept a situation where people’s property and lives were at risk.” He accused Mr Ssemujju of breaching the agreed position to shift the rally from the taxi park to an alternative venue at the rehabilitation centre.”

“Ssemujju headed the team during the meeting but opted to go to a place we prohibited him from using.” “He is inconsistent and not fair to his people and to the police,” he added.

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But Mr Ssemujju blamed the Force for seizing their public address system. “I have held endless meetings with the police but they confiscated our public address system and I am wondering if an MP can no longer be allowed to meet his people.” “I have always told people that this is the price we can pay as Ugandans to liberate our country. Our people are suffering with robbers and thieves with no help but the police have heavily deployed to destruct peace,” he added. Mr Mafabi who also confronted the police, blamed them for disrespecting Ugandans.

“How can you behave like that to us yet you knew that we were waiting for the public address system to address our rally?” Mr Mafabi, who held talks with Mr Andrew Kaweesi who commanded the force, said. “Freedom is never free, we shall fight and fight until we achieve it,” Mr Mafabi said.

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