Opposition leaders held at home ahead of swearing-in

On watch. Police officers stand guard at FDC headquarters in Najjanankumbi, near Kampala, during the 2016 general campaigns. Photo by ABUBAKER LUBOWA

KAMPALA- More Opposition leaders were yesterday arrested as security forces increased a crackdown on political dissent ahead of Mr Museveni’s May 12 swearing-in.

Police raided FDC offices for the third time since the February 18 polls, arresting the party’s deputy secretary general for administration Harold Kaija.

Mr Kaija had just finished addressing the FDC weekly media briefing when about 20 policemen commanded by Kampala Metropolitan Police south regional commander Andrew Kaggwa moved in and began searching the media briefing and other rooms.

Several other items, including a laptop were confiscated by police ‘detectives’ Musa Walugembe and Albert Muhumuza, who manned the search.

“As a police officer, I have the mandate to move in when an offence is about to be committed. We suspected there were seditious materials in there[FDC offices] and we picked some of them,” Mr Kaggwa said.

The house detention of former presidential candidate Kizza Besigye and Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago at their respective homes in Kasangati and Rubaga, which started on May 5, also continued with police restricting visitors and journalists.

Also, homes of leaders such as FDC spokesperson Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda in Kira Municipality and Leader of the Opposition in Parliament in Kampala were surrounded by heavily armed policemen.

At Mr Ssemujju’s home, a police patrol pick-up was packed at the gate of his house with the operatives manning it preventing any access by journalists and visitors.

A plain-clothed stick-wielding man identified as Barnett Tusiime threatened, in the presence of senior police commanders including Mr Bosco Sserunjogi, the DPC Kira Division, to beat up journalists if they did not leave the premises immediately

Mr Sserunjogi said his men were keeping vigil at Mr Ssemujju’s home to “allow the honourable have some rest as he prepares for his voters”.

But in a telephone interview, Mr Ssemujju said: “The police are not saying anything.”

More than 150 Opposition supporters and officials are either in detention or missing, according to FDC officials since the party called for countrywide protests ahead of the May 12 presidential inauguration.

FDC asserts that their candidate Dr Besigye who they claim won the elections by 52 per cent, will be sworn in on May 12 as president.

Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Patrick Onyango declined to comment on the specifics of the crackdown referring the matter to IGP Kale Kayihura.

Gen Kayihura confirmed the whereabouts of FDC secretary for mobilisation Ingrid Turinawe after security operatives arrested her on Sunday at Gayaza Trading Centre. She has not been seen since then.

Police spokesperson Fred Enanga had earlier denied police holding Ms Turinawe in their custody.
However, Gen Kayihura in a briefing yesterday, said the Force was holding Ms Turinawe because “we have evidence she is involved in a number of crimes.”

Background to the arrests
IGP Kale Kayihura has on several occasions warned Dr Besigye and other party officials against their defiance campaign ahead of President Museveni’s swearing in slated for May 12.

Government last week came out and issued a ban on “all live broadcasts of the activities of the ‘defiance’- related campaigns by Dr Besigye and his agents. The warning followed Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma ban on all defiance-related activities.

blocking FDC or any of the party’s agents against organising any procession or carrying on with the defiance campaign pending determination of a Constitutional case filed by government.

Dr Besigye has also been saying Mr Museveni’s fifth coming term in office is neither legal nor legitimate without an independent audit of the February 18 polls.

Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma who issued the order exparte (listening to only one side) said it shall remain in force four months, a time in which the main application would be heard.