The arrest of National Unity Platform (NUP) presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi has sparked off sporadic protests across different cities in the country.
Kyagulanyi was arrested from Luuka district headquarters in eastern Uganda by police officers led by Frank Mwesigwa while addressing a mini rally. Kyagulanyi was detained at Nalufenya police station in neighbouring Jinja city.
According to the Electoral Commission campaign program, Kyagulanyi was meant to campaign in Luuka, Kamuli and Buyende districts. Kyagulanyi was arrested alongside two journalists namely; Ashiraf Kasirye from Ghetto TV and Samuel Balikowa who is attached to City FM radio for allegedly interfering with police duties.
Following his arrest, protests broke out in Jinja, Kampala, Masaka, Hoima, Gulu with the NUP supporters lighting old car tyres and blocking major roads in the cities. In Kampala, police have been battling NUP supporters in Kiseka and Nasser road since around 12.30 pm. NTV has reported that its recording equipment has been confiscated from downtown Kampala as their reporters covered the protests.
In Mulago and Kubiri, police has been engaged in running battles with the protestors for the better part of the afternoon. Prior to his arrest, police used teargas to disperse thousands of Kyagulanyi’s supporters who had converged at the district headquarters. Police officers were later seen battering journalists who were taking photos of Kyagulanyi's arrest.
Following his arrest, Kyagulanyi's supporters attempted to storm Nalufenya police station to free their candidate only to be dispersed using teargas. Two unidentified NUP supporters were also arrested and detained at Nalufenya police station. Police have sealed off the old bridge and blocked traffic from passing near Nalufenya police station.
Moses Bigirwa, the Kamuli NUP coordinator told journalists that police are yet to reveal the reasons for arresting their candidate. Police are still tightlipped on the circumstances surrounding Kyagulanyi's arrest.
Similar to other parts of the country where protests broke out, in Hoima, police fired teargas and live bullets to disperse Kyangulanyi’s angry supporters who took to the streets to protest against his arrest and detention. NUP supporters blocked the Hoima-Fort Portal road using logs, stones and tree branches paralyzing transport.
They also started burning car tyres in the middle of the road. The angry NUP supporters are also leading processions in various parts of Hoima city. They took to the streets at about 3:30 pm.
Business along the Hoima-Fort Portal road is also currently on standstill. Police being commanded by Charles Mubaale, the officer in charge of operations at Hoima Central police station is commanding the operation to disperse the NUP supporters.
Teargas and live bullets are being fired in all parts of Hoima city. Godfrey Ayebale one of the protestors says it is wrong for the police to arrest and detain Kyagulanyi during his campaign period.
Latif Nsubuga, another NUP supporter says it is unfair for police and the military to restrict Kyagulanyi from holding his campaign rallies yet the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) supporters continue to hold processions and rallies.
John Kugonza, another a NUP supporter says he is tired of the current NRM government, saying they need change and that Kyagulanyi should immediately be freed. Wyclif Byamukama also a Kyagulanyi supporter wonders why police are always against their presidential candidate. He says whether Kyagulanyi is in detention or not, they will vote for him.
Julius Hakiza, the Albertine region police spokesperson says police are being forced to fire teargas and live bullets to disperse the rowdy supporters and stop them from causing mayhem in the city centre.
In Masaka, once the news of Kyagulanyi’s arrests started spreading on social media and radio, protests sparked off by mechanics in Nyendo town; a suburb of Masaka city broke out. The protestors blocked the main road with burning car-tyres and logs, before paralyzing traffic flow, promoting security to intervene.
Security personnel comprised of anti-riot police personnel and the army were hurriedly deployed in the area, but the running battles between them and the rowdy protestors intensified. Police are currently firing teargas and rubber bullets to contain the protests that have spread to many parts of Masaka town.
Police have sealed off homes of the some NUP leaders in the area, who include Masaka municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga Nsamba, Florence Namayanja the MP Bukoto East among others.
Muhammad Nsubuga, the greater Masaka Regional police spokesperson says that they are working around the clock to restore order in the area. He indicates that the security is ready to respond to situations that may destabilize the area, warning that they arrest and prosecute the culprits.
Warning: You may find the videos disturbing.— Walter Mwesigye (@MwesigyeWalter) November 18, 2020
This is how the car branded with Museveni campaign slogans and picture knocked and killed people down town. A voice in Luganda says "they're trying to burn the car"