MBALE — Several leaders in the country have condemned the brutal treatment of the National Unity Platform presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu and his supporters by police since he launched his presidential campaign.
On Sunday, Police in Mbale, used excessive force to disperse supporters of Kyagulanyi, had been scheduled to address the people of Mbale
The police and military arrested and beat up his supporters in advance of his huge planned rallies as police used teargas and live bullets to disperse hundreds of people who turned for the gatherings.
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“Moments after a teargas canister was thrown inside the car in which we were travelling, Kyagulanyi claimed, “Mr. Abraham Asiimwe who previously nearly blinded with pepper spray personally threw the canister inside my car, and looked on with satisfaction as we all suffered under the weight of teargas”.
Kyagulanyi said the same officer used extreme force on NUP supporters who were peacefully marching towards the venue of meeting.
“I can confidently say that the bulk of the officers are not hateful and don’t even like doing the kinds of things they do, but if you keenly observe these events, there is usually a clique of three to four people who give orders to their juniors to commit these crimes, and that small clique is never motivated by any law, but by hate and the desire to help [Incumbent President] Gen. Museveni keep a firm grip over our country which he thinks of as his empire”.
In Sironko, Kyagulanyi was expected to address his supporters at Nakiwondye Primary School ground in Budadiri town council but Police blocked his team from using the venue.
They instead advised his team to relocate the rally to Mafudu Primary School in Mafudu sub-county, which is over 10 kilometers from Sironko town, an order he declined.
From Kumi, he used the Namgumba-Buwalasi road to enter Sironko but was stopped by Police at Buweri Bridge in Buyobo sub-county. Tear gas and live bullets rocked Buyobo trading center as Police under the command of Sironko District Police Commander, Edison Muhanji battled Kyagulanyi and his supporters and forced him out of Sironko before addressing any rally.
There were in running battles along the road from Sironko to Mbale as police engaged people who lined up the road to cheer on Kyagulanyi and escort him to Mbale town.
On his entry to Mbale, Kyagulanyi was welcomed by heavily armed Police and UPDF officers backed with several armoured vehicles.
Police staged roadblocks on all major roads leading to the town and attempted to lead the presidential candidate through Nabuyonga raise to Mbale Stadium.
However, Kyagulanyi beat the tight security and entered the central business district through a short cut at Joy Hospice hospital on Nabuyonga rise.
It took Kyagulanyi close to two hours to get to Mbale Stadium where thousands of his supporters were waiting for him after Police intercepted him around Housing Finance Bank on Republic street, which turned into a battleground between Police and NUP Supporters.
The youthful supporters started picking the teargas canisters and throwing them to the police officers.
At around 5:45 PM, Kyagulanyi’s bodyguards whisked him away to Mbale Stadium for the campaign rally but it was cut short by police, which said it was past campaigning time.
Fred Ahimbisibwe, the Mbale District Police Commander, had earlier told journalists that they wouldn’t allow any procession in town.