Mbale, Uganda | URN | Police in Mbale, eastern Uganda has blocked Forum for Democratic Change’s (FDC) belated 15th-anniversary celebrations at Mpumude playground.
FDC marked 15 years on December 6, 2019, with national celebrations at Mandela National Stadium-Namboole. Party members in Mbale had planned to hold regional belated celebrations of the party’s anniversary but police blocked the event on grounds that the organizers did not get clearance from the inspector general of police Martins Okoth Ochola.
Elgon police spokesperson John Robert Tukei told this publication that although the group had written to Ochola about the event, they were never cleared to hold the celebrations.
“The inspector general of police has not written back to them and given specific guidelines to police on how to police that event. Two, there was a controversy over the venue. The deputy assistant town clerk of northern division okayed it, but on Saturday the town clerk Mbale municipality wrote nullifying that offer. So based on those two reasons we could not allow the FDC to hold their meeting today,” said Tukei.
FDC party members said that they wrote to the senior assistant town clerk Martin Busiku requesting for Mpumude playground and were granted permission in a letter dated January 14.
FDC national chairperson Wasswa Birigwa condemned police for always interfering with their activities, even when the party follows the law to hold assemblies as prescribed in the Public Order Management Act (POMA).
“It is unfortunate that this is happening in the world. I don’t understand why because Mr [president] Museveni is moving around the country…and we cannot. We cannot meet and yet we have a schedule that we have to follow ahead of our nomination in August. So how do we mobilize our own people if we’re not allowed to meet? This is very unfair,” he said.
Similarly, Mafabi Sezi, the chairperson of Wanale Division in Mbale Municipality accuses the police of selectively applying provisions of POMA to stop gatherings by political opposition groups.
“We had already sent a notification to the DPC [district police commander] and had also sent it to the RPC [regional police commander] but now they were only sticking on the issue that we have not got a response. But for us, we know that responses are only sent to the headquarters to here. Ours was to mobilize. They have arrested our chairperson madam Wokuri and we’re wondering why,” said Mafabi.
The Mbale FDC party chairperson Margret Wokuri was arrested in the scuffle.