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Uganda Opposition Blames Police For Violence

  • Peter Clottey

Uganda's main opposition leader Kizza Besigye (3rd L) and his supporters are blocked by policemen during a 'walk-to-work' protest in Kasangati suburb near Uganda's capital Kampala, (file photo)

Uganda's main opposition leader Kizza Besigye (3rd L) and his supporters are blocked by policemen during a 'walk-to-work' protest in Kasangati suburb near Uganda's capital Kampala, (file photo)

A leading member of Uganda’s Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) says the police are to blame for the death of a policeman following a scuffle with opposition supporters Wednesday.

The policeman was killed when supporters threw stones as authorities tried to break up a crowd accompanying Besigye and elected opposition officials on a tour of Kampala.

Besigye was briefly arrested and released after police accused him, Kampala Mayor Erias Lukwago and Kampala Woman Member of Parliament Nabilah Naggayi Ssempala of leading an illegal procession in Uganda's capital.

Sam Angoliga, the opposition’s deputy secretary in charge of security, said the police erred in their haste to stop Besigye’s tour of the city. Angoliga called the death of the policeman “unfortunate.”

“It is regrettable that a police officer died,” said Angoliga. “We respect life, and that’s why in our revolution, we have decided we can change this government through non-violent political disobedience, without using a gun.”

Besigye had been invited by the mayor to accompany him on a tour of the city. Police acknowledge granting permission to the mayor for the walk. But they say the permit was only for the opposition leaders and the officials, and not for the large numbers of people who turned up to escort them.

The tour of the busy commercial streets of Kampala took a tragic turn when police fired teargas to disperse crowds following the politicians. Some began throwing stones, hitting the policeman who later died.

Critics blame the opposition leader and his team for disrupting business activity and for the loss of life. But Angoliga rejects the accusations.

“Where would the mayor do the tour if he doesn’t it in the city?” asked Angoliga. As for allegations of defying the permit, he said “they cannot contest that in the court of law… there was nothing like disobeying police order.”

Angoliga blamed the police for the violence.

“[They] are liable for the loss of one of their colleagues,” said Angoliga. “The police are responsible for deploying people against the people who were conducting a tour authorized by them. The police made an error. They miscalculated the situation, which resulted in the death of a Ugandan who is a police officer.”

Angoliga said the opposition will continue with its goal of pressuring President Yoweri Museveni to peacefully step down and relinquish power.

“We think the elections that were held last year were [a] sham, were stage managed,” said Angoliga. “We are saying we are not going to wait for the next general elections in 2016. We want him to push him out of power this year: 2012.”

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