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Uganda: Nine Policemen Held Over Death of DP Supporter

By AL-MAHDI SSENKABIRWA

Police in Kyotera District are holding nine of their own following last Friday’s incident in which one person was shot dead as security dispersed supporters of the Democratic Party (DP) flag bearer for Kyotera County parliamentary seat, Mr John Paul Mpalanyi.

Mr Mpalanyi was campaigning at Nakatoogo Primary School playgrounds in Nabigasa Sub-county.

Six of those arrested work at Kyotera Police Station, whereas the three are bodyguards of the State Minister for Microfinance, Mr Haruna Kyeyune Kasolo, who is seeking to retain his seat as Kyotera County legislator.

According to police, Richard Kayabula,44, was hit by a stray bullet as officers tried to stop a clash between supporters of Mr Kasolo and Mr Mpalanyi.

Those who sustained injuries and are currently admitted to Kalisizo Hospital are Mr Mike Nalima, 20, a barber in Nakatoogo Trading Centre, Ester Nabbaale ,13, a Primary Seven candidate at Nakatoogo Primary School, and Hakim Walukagga,35, a farmer in the same area.

According to Mr Enock Abaine, the Southern regional police commander, the arrested officers are being held at Masaka Police Station, while Mr Kasolo’s bodyguards are at the Force’s headquarters in Naguru, Kampala.

“We have arrested all the officers who took part in that operation, their guns have been withdrawn and taken for ballistic inspection to know who exactly fired the bullets which allegedly killed one person and injured others,” he said during an interview on Tuesday.

Mr Abaine said both Mr Mpalanyi and Mr Kasolo have since recorded statements at Kalisizo Police and Naguru Police headquarters respectively, to aid the investigations.

Mass rallies banned

He said they have since banned mass rallies and processions in the district because the organisers violate Covid-19 guidelines and all those who will fail to comply, will be arrested and prosecuted.

Mr Enos Mugisha, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) vice chairperson of Kyotera District, however, blamed police for being silent on Opposition supporters who are reportedly attacking NRM supporters.

“Since Kayabula’s death, several NRM supporters have received threats and some have abandoned their homes. We ask police to help those people before the situation gets out of hand,” he said.

During Kayabula’s burial in Mabunwe Village, Nabigasa Sub-county, on Sunday, mourners castigated police for the highhandedness and selective enforcement of Covid-19 guidelines.

Police accused

“I saw with my eyes a policeman shooting Kayabula. I doubt the competence of many of the police officers we have today. If they were well trained, they couldn’t have shot at people while dispersing a peaceful gathering,” Mr Patrick Kintu Kisekulo, the Kyotera District chairperson, told mourners.

Mr Mpalanyi asked Inspector General of Police Martins Okoth-Ochola to investigate police officers in the area, whom he accuses of being biased.

“Whenever I organise a campaign meeting to talk to the voters, police disperse the people yet my rival and NRM flag bearer Kasolo organises mass rallies and is not touched,” he explained.

He said he had got a team of lawyers led by Ms Cissy Nantongo to ensure Kayabula’s family gets justice.

Police were not represented at the burial.

Mr Kasolo has since said he organised only one mass rally last Thursday after being provoked by his opponent, who he says has been holding mass rallies without being blocked by police.

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