Police fired teargas at supporters of Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) presidential candidate Patrick Amuriat as he made various stopovers on his way to Soroti District to launch his campaign.
Teargas was also fired at Fika Salama on the border of Mbale and Bukedea districts to disperse FDC supporters who were waiting to cheer their presidential flag bearer who was en route to Soroti.
The road entering Mbale City was yesterday temporarily blocked by Mbale District Police Commander Fred Ahimbisibwe to block Mr Amuriat’s convoy of about 20 vehicles.
Police deployed heavily at different entry points, including Doko Trading Centre and Pallisa Road, to stop Mr Amuriat from passing through the city centre. Nevertheless, the FDC presidential candidate beat the security and accessed the city but he was not allowed to stop to address party supporters who had converged around Clock Tower.
Police escorted him up to Fiika Salama on Mbale-Bukedea border. But when he reached Fiika Salama, he moved out of the car and addressed supporters. He was given gifts, including a cock.
Police quickly intervened and fired teargas to disperse the FDC supporters, saying they were violating Covid-19 guidelines.
Mr Amuriat accused police of being partisan. Mr Ahimbisibwe said: “He didn’t have permission to address people in Mbale.”
Amuriat accused police of being partisan. Mr Ahimbisibwe said: “He didn’t have permission to address people in Mbale.”
Mr Amuriat was later able to proceed to Soroti. Mr Moses Mafabi, an FDC supporter, accused police of unprofessionalism and high handedness.
“Many of our supporters were stopped by police for waving to their party president,” Mr Mafabi said. He castigated government for deploying battle trucks like mamba against civilians.
Meanwhile, the Electoral Commission (EC) yesterday asked FDC to comply with police and change their campaign venue from Soroti grounds to Mayors Gardens. In a closed-door meeting with FDC members at EC offices in Soroti, Mr Charles Egimu, the registrar, said the party should change their launch venue to Mayors Gardens because security claimed the former meeting area is close to Soroti Hospital, which reportedly hosts Covid-19 patients in intensive care unit. “Comply with security and relocate to Mayors Gardens as proposed to you,” Mr Egimu told the FDC team, which comprised Soroti City Mayor Paul Omer, Mr Daniel Eigu and Mr Julius Ekudo.
However, Mr Omer, who is also FDC mobiliser for Teso and Karamoja, castigated police for violating people’s right to identify with their parties under the pretext of the pandemic. Mr Maxwell Ogwal, the East Kyoga regional police commander, said they expected FDC to comply and launch their activities at Mayors Gardens near Soroti Municipal offices.