Police in Soroti yesterday blocked Opposition politicians who attempted to hold a rally to drum up support for a raft of 10 electoral reforms they insist must be effected to guarantee free and fair elections in 2016.
FDC President Mugisha Muntu, UPC president Olara Otunu, and retired Bishop Zac Niringiye, were blocked from accessing Lions Park and other venues where rallies about the proposed reforms were scheduled. There was a scuffle with police even as the opposition leaders went to Desert Island Hotel owned by Soroti Woman MP Angelline Osege to have lunch.
Soroti DPC, Mr Joab Wabwire, said he would not allow them access the hotel because they are going to hold a meeting “that has not been vetted by police.”
“They are going to cause breach of peace. We are not going to allow this because if they had wanted to conduct a rally, they would have consulted us,” Mr Wabwire said.
“This is my home. I don’t need permission to host my visitors,” Ms Osege argued as she tried to shove the DPC off the entrance to the hotel.
Sensing the deadlock, Gen Muntu and Bishop Niringiye dashed to where their colleague was engaging the DPC. Gen. Muntu told the DPC, “My brother, you need to understand the law.” However, Mr Wabwire never relented.
The leaders were also blocked from holding rallies as all venues were cordoned off. “We were trying to leave the hotel and there was a scuffle, they threw tear gas and bystanders deserted,” Bishop Niringiye said. “It’s not abandoning, the police blocked us. And rather than fight….” he added.
Opposition politicians have been traversing the country drumming up support for the reforms as the clock ticks away to April when they are expected to unveil their next move if the government does not warm up to the proposed reforms.
Gen Muntu said the conflicting instruction police get create confusion. He cited an incident in Mbale on Saturday where security personnel and army officers wanted the opposition leaders to be allowed to hold their rally peaceful but other instructions to the contrary were issued. Mr Otunnu displayed a February 13 letter addressed to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and all DPCs across the country, notifying them of these several rallies.
Bishop Niringiye decried what he termed as the abuse of police by government. “You have a whole DPC blocking you from accessing private property. President Museveni must stop this. General Kayihura must stop this. What we are seeking to do is very peaceful. One of these days I will be stopped from entering church.”