By Jessica A Badebye
Supporters of former Ugandan Premier Amama Mbabazi saw him re-launch his presidential consultative meetings this week, in which he is expected to collect 100,000 signatures starting with the Eastern Region.
Mbabazi was set to hold meetings in Mbale, Kapchorwa, Soroti and Jinja, all major districts in the Eastern part of the country from 7th to 10th September, 2015 then proceed to other parts of the country. Two of the expected four meetings held in Mbale and Kapchorwa respectively, were successful amidst minimal hindrances until he went to Soroti, where an even larger crowd had been mobilized for him. This is where hell broke loose as the meeting was antagonized by an anti-Mbabazi group which confronted the crowd protesting his intension to stand for the presidency.
The two groups started fighting making it timely for the state machineries including the police that had already been heavily deployed in the area to employ the use of tear gas and live bullets. The meeting held at Soroti independence grounds immediately turned into a wrestling ring between anti Mbabazi group and the his supporters who had now charged at overpowering the police by throwing stones and sticks at the police. This prompted a heavier doze of teargas and live bullets to disperse the rowdy crowd. Mbabazi however, managed to address his supporters and boasted of how he was the architect of the Public Order and Management Act 2005, that police often uses to bar him from holding his meetings. “They are hiding in the law, I know the law because I am a lawyer and I’m the one who did it that law,” boasted Mbabazi.
Mbabazi’s fourth meeting scheduled in Jinja district was not any different from that in Soroti. This was even worse as he was denied access to the venues he had booked. Mbabazi’s campaign team had booked Kakindu Stadium and Kazimingi Industrial Park for the meetings, only to be blocked by a heavy police deployment. This obviously did not go down well with the supporters and crowd mobilized to welcome the presidential aspirant at the two venues, causing another mêlée that called for use of another doze of teargas and live bullets to disperse the angry crowd.