The arrest of sixteen supporters of Independent Presidential candidate John Patrick Amama Mbabazi over alleged involvement in the violent clashes in Ntungamo a week ago, has heightened tensions between the two rival camps of Go Forward and NRM.
The arrests come after tough language from both President Yoweri Museveni and the Inspector General of Police Gen. Kale Kayihura vowing to punish Mbabazi’s supporters whom they accuse of premeditated violence against NRM supporters after a rally in Ntungamo district.
Mbabazi’s camp argues that on Dec 13, people who were dressed in NRM T-Shirts attacked their supporters by throwing stones. Go Forward supporters reacted by beating up the NRM attackers. Some accounts indicate that two of the NRM supporters were killed while several were admitted with serious injuries. NRM camp disputes the Go Forward version of the story and insists that the attacks visited on their supporters were not inspired by revenge.
The statement signed by Police Spokesperson Fred Enanga said three of Mbabazi’s supporters had been picked from outside Mbabazi’s home while 13 had been picked from Mbabazi’s Go Forward campaign headquarters. Mbabazi said 20 people in total, including former Kalungu district chairman, had been arrested by the Uganda police.
In a string of tweets, Mbabazi denounced Uganda police’s actions as illegal and an act of panic by the NRM flag bearer President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, suggesting that the arrests were a directive from the president and NRM candidate.
The Police today, Tuesday, 22nd December, 2015, at around 9:30 am, arrested a total of sixteen suspects, for their alleged involvement and connectivity to the violent beating of victims, during an electoral event in Ntungamo district.
Police named those that were picked from outside Mbabazi’s home as; Kabali Frank, Mayinja Eriya and Kasajja Abdallah.
Others that were arrested from the Go Forward campaign headquarters were identified as; Onzima Ramathan, Mugabi Lawrence, Sebatendera George, Semakula Asad, Hajj Jamilu Mutebi, Ndugga Musaazi Rogers, Turyamureeba Ben, Tukwatanise Asaph, Ddumba David, Mbejja Yawori Ezekiel, Sewanyana Ibra, Matovu Mohammed and Kyazze Samuel.
Police says that all the suspects were interviewed and their statements recorded at the Special Investigations Division, Kireka, Kampala, where eleven, admitted participation in the violent beatings and ugly incidents of assault in Ntungamo.
“Arrangements are in place to have them transferred for further management and probable arraignment in court in Ntungamo,”
Enanga adds: “It should be noted that seven victims, who suffered injuries of assault occasioning bodily harm, and one victim of grievous bodily harm, reported at Ntungamo Police station, that a group of men, believed to be supporters of the Go Forward, aggressively assaulted them, including the use of sticks and other weapons. The Police instituted inquiries and made significant progress, upon reviewing video footages, depicting the violent assault, in addition to the specific accounts from the respective victims and eye witnesses.”
Police says that 6 suspects identified as; Amanya Sulait, Kumwesiga Boaz, Kamwesigye Hamidu, Sekeba Alex, Muhangi Robson and Asingwire Apollo have been charged at Ntungamo Grade 1 Magistrate’s Court, with 5 counts of assault occasioning bodily harm and 1 count of assault occasioning grievous harm.
The arrests and other aftermath events of the Ntungamo clashes are a source of concern not only for ordinary Ugandans but also for other countries over their potential to undermine peace as well as free and fair elections.
The US mission in Uganda on Tuesday posted on its Twitter account urging all parties to exercise restraint.