At least 13 members of the pressure group—Activists for Change—were in police custody by press time, as they planned the resumption of the walk-to-work protests today, which police has warned they will crush. President Museveni also yesterday warned that the protests would be stopped, as they would disrupt the Senior Four final examinations that start countrywide today.
“I have heard that some people want to disrupt the national examinations. I want to warn them that they will not disrupt the examinations. We shall not tolerate anybody to disrupt the examinations of the children,” the President told a news conference in Kampala.
Plain clothed security operatives arrested the 13 activists as they attempted to leave the A4C offices on Katonga Road in Kampala. They were taken to an undisclosed location.
The activists had been attending a meeting called by the FDC Secretary for Women, Ms Ingrid Turinawe, who said the meeting was to discuss a letter addressed to the A4C national coordinator, Mr Mathias Mpuuga, by the police, chief, Maj. Gen Kale Kayihura, over the walk-to-work protests scheduled to begin today.
“As our members walked out of the offices, they were rounded up by unknown people who we believe were plain cloth security officers,” Ms Turinawe said. She said 10 A4C members were arrested in the operation and the police later detained three others who went to look for their relatives at Jinja Road Police Sation.
Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba said those arrested were found with “exhibits in connection to the walk to work”. Some of those arrested include Hassan Kirunda, Allan Mutagubya, Shafik Sebandeka, Martin Mayanja, Ziyadi Muteesa and Mathew Walakira.
An unidentified student of Makerere University who had attended the meeting was also arrested in Wandegeya. The three others who went to Jinja Road Police Station to search for their relatives and were detained are Jenny Lubega, Faridah Nakabugo and Rajab Kaya.
A4C had written to police requesting permission to conduct a week of walking to work that would end in a rally at Kololo Airstrip on Saturday 22.
Gen. Kayihura on Friday wrote back saying the request would not be honoured because police had received petitions against the protests from several interest groups.
Of particular concern, Gen. Kayihura said, were parents and school administrators who have informed him that the national examinations are set to begin today, yet A4C allegedly intends to paralyse public transport. “We are aware that the senior four examinations begin on October 17 which coincides with the start of our walk-to-work week. We are anxious to ensure that they start and complete their exams successfully,” Mr. Mpuuga said in a press release on Saturday.
When Daily Monitor visited the A4C offices yesterday security operatives were lurking at the entrance of the offices. For close to two hours, Ms Turinawe and other activists locked themselves in the building as they made phone calls to other activists to come to their rescue.
Journalists from several media houses flocked the area, prompting the security operatives to leave. Ms Turinawe and other activists later left the offices on foot.