At least one person was killed in Kampala on Monday as police and opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) supporters clashed in the city days to Uganda’s presidential election.
Earlier, chaos broke out in the city centre after police blocked off Jinja Road and threw teargas canisters at the crowds accompanying Kizza Besigye, the FDC flagbearer. The four-time presidential candidate was briefly detained by the police, who said he had defied orders about what route to use on his way to a rally. Police say they had asked him to avoid the city centre and use an alternate route.
A schedule released by the FDC before the incidents showed that Besigye was going to address several rallies in the city. Most of these places, however, were scenes of chaos as police battled FDC supporters.
The police escorted Besigye back to his home, where he left again to continue his campaigns. He was however blocked from addressing a scheduled rally at Makerere University, with the police saying it was past the allowed time (rallies are supposed to end at 6pm). The Besigye campaign and police have previously sparred over what police says is Besigye’s tendency to address rallies beyond 6pm. Besigye has however pointed out that President Museveni is not following the law either, and he will only listen to police if they reign in the Museveni campaign.
Wandegeya, just outside Makerere University, was the scene of more battles between the police and Besigye supporters.
More pictures of abuse of human rights today in Ug. One person shot dead & tens indiscriminately dosed with tear gas pic.twitter.com/0KIVhnXHfT
— Nicholas Opiyo (@nickopiyo) February 15, 2016
The military was brought in to reinforce police. The Army spokesperson, Paddy Ankunda, tweeted that the military was “there for peace” and “only troublemakers should worry.”
— Paddy Ankunda (@defenceuganda) February 15, 2016
Information circulating on social media says more than one person was killed, but this remains unconfirmed. One of the more dramatic images from the day shows the police officer who led today’s operation sitting on FDC’s contestant for the Woman Member of Parliament seat for Kampala in the front seat of a police vehicle.
— Chapter Four Uganda (@chapter4uganda) February 15, 2016
The country will vote on Thursday, and incumbent Yoweri Museveni – who is running to extend his 30 year term – faces his stiffest challenge yet from arch-rival Kizza Besigye. There have been longstanding fears that the elections could turn violent. The opposition has pointed at a militia recruited by the police – known as ‘Crime Preventers’ – in the months to the election season whose purpose it says is to intimidate its supporters. On the other hand, the ruling party, police and the army all claim the opposition plans to disrupt the electoral exercise using militias, and have threatened to use lethal force to deal with such disturbances if they occur.