On Monday October 14th 2019, I wrote to the Inspector General of Police notifying him of a seminar the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) intended to host at Mandela National Stadium.
This half day seminar was meant to communicate the revised FDC internal calendar and national elections timetable. It was also meant to discuss governance in Uganda.
As area MP and Party Information Secretary, I was assigned to organize the seminar and it is in that capacity that I wrote to the Police.
I copied the letter to Police Commander Kampala Metropolitan and Kira Division Commander.
I also wrote to Namboole management requesting to hire their expansive parking for this seminar. Namboole communicated the availability of the space and asked me to pay Shs 1,000,000 which I duly paid in the bank.
A member of staff in my office delivered and followed up the letter with the IGP’s office which issued no reply for two weeks.
On Thursday October 31st, I telephoned the Minister of State for Internal Affairs Hon. Obiga Kania and explained to him the challenges I encountered with Police.
I had also unsuccessfully telephoned AIGP Asuman Mugyenyi, director of operations. The office of the IGP had advised us to liaise with him.
Minister Obiga Kania promised to talk to the Police over the matter which he did. He wondered during our telephone conversation how a registered party, FDC was finding difficult “in obtaining a Police clearance.”
He promised to prevail over Police especially Asuman Mugyenyi to issue a reply. I telephoned him again a day later on Friday November 1st and this time Obiga sounded powerless. He was now advising me to go to Naguru to speak to the IGP and Asuman Mugyenyi.
Eventually I used a different telephone line and this time Mugyenyi picked it. He told me he had issued a reply and deposited it with the Police registry.
That, in his reply which I have not received to date, he raised two issues; First, that FDC presented no evidence that it had paid Namboole. Two, that a seminar cannot be held in an open space. It must be held indoors. When I asked him under which law, he threatened to switch me off and indeed he did.
On Saturday November 2nd, Tent 4 U, a company that hires out tents, went to Namboole Parking to erect a 1000 seater tent which the FDC had paid for. The OC Bweyogerere station who had been stationed there ordered them away and even threatened to confiscate the tent.
On Monday November 4th, delegates invited to the seminar started arriving at 9am. They found all roads leading to Mandela Stadium blocked by Police. They contacted me and I advised them to go to the FDC office in Kireka.
Meanwhile Police began to erect impromptu roadblocks stopping especially taxis and removing everybody putting an FDC blue T-shirt.
Some of the FDC members forcefully removed from taxis were severely beaten before being dumped in waiting pickup trucks. In total 60 FDC members from Kawempe, Kira and Nakawa got arrested. At Bweyogerere, they were not allowed even to visit toilets.
When the FDC President Eng. Hon. Patrick Oboi Amuriat arrived at the Kireka office, he advised us to shift the seminar to Najjanankumbi, FDC headquarters. We jumped into our vehicles and began the journey to Najjanankumbi.
We were intercepted by Police at Banda. They started to indiscriminately fire teargas canisters at us. They also sprinkled us with water from one of their trucks. The high pressured water from the truck was deliberately directed at FDC founding President Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye.
The cannon threw Dr. Besigye against the roof of his vehicle and nearly tipped him off. It is his driver who held him by the legs.
The Police then turned to residents firing teargas into Farmers Market in Kireka and into St. Mary’s Primary School where candidates sitting for PLE scampered for their lives.
Police blocked the Jinja highway and made it impossible for Dr. Besigye and all of us to proceed. They brought a breakdown vehicle and attempted to tow away Dr. Besigye and Hon. Amuriat’s vehicles.
When the breakdown failed, the Policemen in a movie like savagery scene, pounced on Dr. Besigye’s vehicle, smashed its screens and sprayed him with a yet to be identified chemical.
They then violently removed him and drove him to Naggalama Police Station, which they have turned into his second home.
The FDC was not the only victim on the day the Uganda Police went on rampage. It descended on journalists marching against brutality it has meted out to them while covering demonstrations and completed the day’s mayhem by beating Makerere University students.
This is the environment under which Justice Byabakama is organizing the next general elections.
According to the Electoral Commission roadmap, elections for interest groups’ councils from village to national will begin in March next year. How will political parties which are not allowed to organize even a seminar participate in these elections?
The NRM Secretary General issued her party’s roadmap recently. But her Chairman is working outside it with the likes of Full Figure, Butcherman and Catherine Kusaasira. That is his and NRM’s choice.
For us as FDC, we are a formal institution that wants to stick to set rules. Please allow us to do so.
SSEMUJJU IBRAHIM NGANDA
FDC SPOKESMAN/ CHIEF OPPOSITION WHIP