Police block FDC rally in Mbale town

Police blocking one of the roads leading to Mpumudde grounds where FDC leaders were supposed to hold the rally. PHOTO BY MICHEAL WONIALA

Police in Mbale District on Saturday foiled an attempt by Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party leaders to hold a public rally at Mpumudde grounds in Namakwekwe ward in Mbale Municipality.

FDC had organized a rally where Kizza Besigye, party president Partick Oboi Amuriat, and other leaders were meant to address the people.

Patrick Amuriat Oboi, and three other FDC supporters were arrested and taken to Mbale Central Police station.

Mr Amuriat had been scheduled to address hundreds of party supporters that had already converged at the venue.

Other leaders that were intercepted on their way included the FDC secretary general, Mr Nathan Nandala Mafabi, Ms Ingrid Turinawe, the FDC secretary for mobilization and Dr Kizza Besigye, the party’s former presidential candidate.

Shortly after their interception, a scuffle ensued as the rowdy supporters fought with police officers to allow their leaders proceed to the venue to address them.

The police officers retaliated by firing tear gas and live bullets, dispersing the protesters and their leaders in disarray.

Police reportedly blocked the rally on grounds that it was an illegal meeting contrary to the Public Order Management Act.

The police officers said that FDC leaders had not been cleared by the office of Inspector General of Police and therefore could not proceed with the rally. They also said that it was late to hold a rally because it was already 6:00pm.

However, shortly after his release on bond, Mr Amuriat said they had already got clearance from the IGP, stating that police blocked them in error.

“We were ordered not to allow the rally to take place and it will not take place,” one of the police officers, told the FDC leaders.

However when contacted, Mr Fred Ahimbisihwe, the Mbale District Police Commander declined to comment. “You call our public relations officer or RPC for comment. I cannot comment,” he said.

Efforts to speak to the Mt Elgon Police Spokesperson, Mr Robert Tukei, also went in vain as calls made to him on his known mobile number went unanswered, same happened for the Regional Police Commander (RPC), Mr Wesley Nganizi who also could not be reached for a comment.

The FDC leaders condemned the police act, saying it was sign of unprofessionalism and high-handedness.

“Police is being partisan by not allowing us to address our supporters, which is our right,” Mr Nandala Mafabi, (MP Budadiri West) said.