JULY 28, 2010: Police Release 60 Anti-EC Protestors

Police Release 60 Anti-EC Protestors

SOURCE: The Monitor

By G. Bareebe, S. Naturinda and Andrew Bagala

The police on Wednesday released at least 62 opposition protestors arrested on Tuesday after they tried to stage demonstrations in different parts of the country.

Mr Vincent Ssekate, the police deputy spokesperson, said most of the suspects have been released on police bond pending the decision of the Resident State Attorneys, who are yet to scrutinise their files.

"Their files have been sent to the Resident State Attorneys in different parts of the country for legal advice but most likely we shall prefer charges of holding unlawful assemblies," Mr Ssekate said.

The protestors were arrested following demonstrations organised by the National Alliance for Free and Fair Elections (NAFFE) and the Inter party Corporation (IPC).

The protests were targeted at catching the attention of the African Union delegates to draw their attention to the challenges of democracy in Uganda.

Police managed to foil the Kampala protest but faced stiff resistance in at least 12 other towns. Rukungiri town was relatively calm on Wednesday, a day after town dwellers witnessed firing of live bullets; teargas and paper spray as police battled angry demonstrators who had painted the town red with pictures denouncing the Eng. Badru Kiggundu-led Electoral Commission.

Police screened the 21 protestors arrested in Rukungiri, picked the three ring leaders and released the rest. The three were set to appear before court yesterday.

NAFFE's National Coordinator Margaret Wokuri confirmed that all the 62 demonstrators who were by yesterday still under police custody have been released.

"We do not have any person in custody now. Even the 62 persons who were under custody up to today [yesterday] have been released," Ms Wokuri said. "The four, who were held at Wandegeya Police, have been hit badly. In fact, we are trying to get medical attention for one gentleman who was seriously injured."

Police has also released all the other protestors arrested in Mbale, Jinja, Soroti, Masaka Lira and Arua. Some were charged with holding illegal assemblies while others were just set free without any charge preferred against them.

The leader of opposition in Parliament, Prof. Ogenga Latigo, yesterday accused the police of using excessive force on unarmed demonstrators. "The Mbale demos were confronted by police and the usual kiboko squad. It was very unfortunate because officers reigned on women with sticks and whipped them like animals," Prof. Latigo said. "This is just an attempt by the government to scare Ugandans on the account of their choice of elections. Beating up people especially women is totally unacceptable whatever the reasons are."

It was the first time the opposition group mobilised a nationwide protest against electoral commissioners who were reappointed last year despite widespread complaints about their alleged lack of impartiality and method of appointment.

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