Uganda’s police have sharply denied detaining embattled Kampala City Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago and preventing his family from any access to food and medication.
Ibin Ssenkunbi, police spokesman for the capital, Kampala, says security officials received intelligence reports that Mr. Lukwago had organized opposition supporters to destabilize the city by creating chaos at the offices of the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA).
“There was a plan, which he announced, asking people and the public to join him [to] go and storm the offices of KCCA, and force themselves inside,” said Ssenkunbi. “We thought it was not a good development because it has the potential to cause chaos in the city. We asked him to use proper means to access the office … and not to cause violence, but he insisted he [was] going to go.”
Ssenkunbi’s comments came after the speaker of parliament ordered the inspector general of police to ensure that the embattled Lord Mayor and his family receive uninterrupted supplies of food and medicine.
Some lawmakers petitioned the speaker to intervene after accusing the police of preventing him and his family from leaving his house. They also said Mrs. Lukwago, who gave birth over two weeks ago, was being prevented from leaving the house for medical attention. Ssenkunbi denied the accusations.
“Even the assertion that he cannot access food and medication is false because how can we do that? His lawyers are visiting him, his relatives are coming, his friends are coming,” said Ssenkunbi. “We have not prevented him from coming out. What we are only saying is that if he is coming out then he should be going to do other business, not actually leading a procession to cause confusion in the city.”
Ssenkunbi also denied accusations that the police have detained the Lord Mayor by surrounding his house and prevented him from leaving.
“We are only saying that if he wants to carry out a procession, demonstrations and attack KCCA offices as he has actually informed the general public, then we are not allowing that,” said Ssenkunbi. “Our concern is simply the violence. What we are doing is monitoring his movements, not necessarily blocking him from moving out.”
Ssenkunbi said police officers have been mandated by the constitution to enforce the law and protect civilians and will not allow individuals or groups of people to plunge the city into violence and chaos.
But, Lukwago told VOA earlier that the police have restricted his movements.
“We were supposed to be back in the office [last] Friday had it not been for the interception by the police who decided to cordon off my home very early in the morning. Actually the whole day yesterday, I was confined to my home, and they would not let me [leave],” said Lukwago.
A high court recently struck down Lukwago’s impeachment by the city council, which had voted to remove him from office.
A tribunal report accused him of incompetence and abuse of office, among other charges. Lukwago denied the charges, but he was subsequently impeached after the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) council members voted to remove him from office in spite of a court order.