KAMPALA- Security forces have arrested 17 coordinators of Renew Uganda, a political platform headed by Gen Henry Tumukunde, a presidential hopeful.
They were arrested during a meeting in Nansana Municipality, Wakiso District.
Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesman, Mr Patrick Onyango said the detained coordinators were violating guidelines that were announced by the government to control the spread of coronavirus.
“We got a tip that a group of people were hold a meeting that was likely to lead to the spread of an infectious disease. A team was sent there and found a group of people seated without respecting social distance and they were not wearing masks. They were arrested and have been detained at Nansana Police Station,” Mr Onyango said on Friday.
On Wednesday, Gen Tumukunde launched the platform he intends to use in the 2021 presidential elections.
Mr Labson Kijjambu, the coordinator for Gen Tumukunde’s platform in Wakiso District, denies violating the guidelines.
“The team of 18 people was seated in a spacious place and each had socially distanced and were wearing masks. When police officers came, they said the meeting was illegal because Gen Tumukunde hadn’t informed them about the meeting,” Mr Kijjambu said. “They dragged everyone to waiting police vehicles. At the police station, our team members were told that they violated guidelines to control the spread of coronavirus, which isn’t true.”
He described the arrest as the “endless political persecution” of political opponents by the ruling National Resistance Movement.
Mr Onyango said the Independent Electoral Commission issued guidelines on political meetings and that police must be notified before such meetings are held.
Opposition politicians have faced challenges of holding public meetings since political parties were allowed to operate in 2005.
Police have been citing the Public Order Management Act to disperse them.