MBALE– Mbale town was a scene of teargas and live bullets yesterday as police dispersed a rally that had been called by the Mbale Municipality MP Jack Wamanga (FDC) to discuss the age limit.
The rally aimed at seeking people’s views on the proposed amendment of Article 102 (b) of the Constitution that seeks to scrap Presidential age caps. According the 1995 Constitution, persons below 35 years of age and above 75 years are not legible to stand for the Presidency of the country.
The rally that started at about 3pm at Mbale Cricket Ground was dominated by chants of Togikwako, loosely translated to mean don’t touch the Constitution.
Trouble started when the Leader of Opposition, Winnie Kiiza, arrived at the rally venue. Steven Ahwere, the district police commander, upon learning of her arrival ordered organisers to stop the rally, arguing that joint consultative meetings attended by legislators from other constituencies were banned.
Suddenly, police started firing teargas and bullets sending hundreds scampering.
“This is an illegal meeting. Police stopped joint consultations on the age limit bill,” Ahwere said.
Ms Kizza condemned the police behaviour and urged people to continue with the struggle to save he Constitution from being ‘mutilated’.
“This is unconstitutional but we don’t have to relent until we have won,” she said.
Wamanga on his part blamed police for over reacting, saying the Leader of Opposition is an important person, who ought to be welcomed in every part of the country.
He said that despite police intimidation, the people of Mbale Municipality have rejected the amendment that “is intended to create life presidency in Uganda.”
“My people have rejected it and I am going to report to the Parliament that as Mbale Municipality, we do not support the proposed amendment,” he said.
On Friday, Police arrested FDC’s secretary general Nathan Nandala Mafabi for allegedly inciting violence after he led a protest against the lifting of the presidential age limit.
He was driven to Tororo Central Police Station and charged with inciting violence. By the time of filing this story, the FDC secretary general was still under police custody.