Police block Besigye from participating in EACOP debate in Kampala

Ugandan opposition figure Kizza Besigye reacts after he was blocked from attending a public debate on EACOP in Kampala on January 24, 2022. PHOTO/ABUBAKER LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • Dr Besigye was then escorted by police to his office at Katonga Road in Kampala even as several officials are convened in the mid-western Uganda district of Kikuube where President Museveni officially launched oil drilling on January 24.

Police on Tuesday blocked Ugandan political activist Dr Kizza Besigye from participating in a public debate on the divisive East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) in Kampala.

Early Tuesday morning, Dr Besigye arrived at Emerald Hotel along Bombo Road where the debate was set to happen only to find the venue barricaded by police and military officials.

Police said "no one was allowed into the hotel without written authorization from the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Martins Okoth-Ochola."

"This is a very topical issue. It's a matter of national interest. The meeting is taking place in a hotel room and not public. It cannot be regulated by the Public Order Management Act (POMA). There's no law that requires me to produce a letter authorizing me to attend an indoor meeting. Where does police derive the power to stop citizens from attending meetings in a hotel?" the former presidential candidate said.

According to him, it's unfair for security to allow First Son and senior presidential advisor for special operations, Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, who is a serving military officer to traverse the country holding public rallies while other citizens are blocked.

"Muhoozi Kainerugaba has been all over the country holding public rallies but police can't allow an indoor discussion?” the former opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party president told journalists shortly after being blocked.

Dr Besigye was then escorted by police to his office at Katonga Road in Kampala even as several government dignitaries are convened in the mid-western Uganda district of Kikuube where President Museveni officially launched oil drilling on January 24.

This in effect marks the start of trials for oil drilling using the rig that was hauled in the country last August and assembled in November. The process will culminate in commercial production in late 2025 but could stretch into 2026.

On January 21, Gen Muhoozi led a political procession through Mbale City before addressing a public rally at Mbale Rugby Grounds, located about 140 kiliometres from Jinja City where police dispersed opposition supporters.

On Saturday, police arrested at least 13 supporters of former presidential candidate, Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine on allegations of holding an unlawful assembly in the eastern Uganda city.

Some people were injured as police fired teargas and live bullets to disperse the function, which Kyagulanyi described as “a peaceful gathering.”

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