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Ugandan Official Calls Post-Election Protesters ‘Hooligans’

  • Peter Clottey

Forum for Democratic Change opposition leader Dr. Kizza Besigye displays pre-marked ballot papers, during a news conference at party headquarters in Kampala Uganda (file photo)

Forum for Democratic Change opposition leader Dr. Kizza Besigye displays pre-marked ballot papers, during a news conference at party headquarters in Kampala Uganda (file photo)

The spokesperson for Uganda’s government describes anti-government protesters demonstrating against alleged rigging by the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) in last month’s presidential and parliamentary elections as hooligans and property destroyers.

Kabakumba Labwoni Masiko says the protesters defied the country’s law by refusing to inform the police about the demonstration. Police fired tear gas Wednesday to disperse the protesters after accusing them of attacking people in Kampala's Kisekka market and made eight arrests.

“There are mechanisms to resolve [disputes] for those who are not happy about the [election] in courts of law. And, of course, our constitution allows peaceful demonstration, but the way they organized the [protest], they did not follow the laid down regulations and laws,” said Masiko.

“For somebody to have a demonstration, they must inform police, for the police to provide security for them, to know how many they will be and to check out the route so they don’t disturb the business people or bother people who are going about their own work, which they did not do,” she added.

Masiko also denies the police fired live ammunition to disperse the protesters.

“That is not true. I know they confronted them with teargas, one or two, because they were becoming rioters. But, that was about it,” she said.

Witnesses say the protest broke up shortly after security forces stepped in. The demonstrators challenged the legitimacy of President Yoweri Museveni's re-election last month. Opposition leaders say the presidential poll was rigged, a charge Museveni has denied.

Masiko says the arrested protesters will be prosecuted for violating Uganda’s laws. She denies accusations that the ruling NRM party used more than $60 million (600 billion shillings) for its campaign during the elections.

“What is their source of those figures? I don’t know how much they know the money our party put in. But, for the sources, one, there were sources that the president used were from the party, then for the security detail, whatever was attached to him, he is allowed by law to use those privileges during the campaign,” said Masiko

Uganda's longtime leader won the presidential poll with 68 percent of the vote. Rival Kizza Besigye came in second place with 26 percent. Uganda's police chief has accused the opposition of trying to incite violence and destabilize the country after a peaceful vote.

Besigye and his four-party coalition have said any government formed by Museveni is illegitimate. With the win, Museveni earned a fourth term in office. He has ruled Uganda since seizing power in 1986.

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