Police in eastern Uganda’s Kamuli Municipality had to fire in the air to disperse an angry mob protesting against the prospects of removing the presidential age limit from the constitution.
The anti-age limit protesters, led by the Democratic Party [DP] National Youth Chairman, Mr Moses Bigirwa, engaged the security agencies in a battle that lasted at least three hours.
The protesters, who assembled at Adams Road for a rally over what they called ‘the critical need to protect the constitution’, marched to the taxi park before being intercepted at the roundabout by police commanded by the District Police Commander [DPC], Mr Collins Kyasimire.
“Defending Article 102 (b) is protecting the Constitution. Defend the constitution before it is too weak to protect you,” Mr Bigirwa shouted as he flagged off the march meant to deliver his petition to the Speaker of Parliament and Woman Member of Parliament, [MP], Ms Rebecca Kadaga.
Mr Bigirwa hurled harsh words at the surging policemen and added that they merely wanted to deliver the petition to their legislator, Ms Kadaga, who doubles as the chairperson of the Busoga Caucus.
The Busoga North police spokesperson, Mr Michael Kasadha, denied using excessive force to disperse the demonstrators.
“With an ambush of demonstrators who came from nowhere, the police was forced to respond that way to disperse the illegal protest. It could be seen as excessive force but it was commensurate with what they were trying to do,” he said in defence of the gunfire that rocked the municipality for close to three hours.
He added that the police was provoked after their commander, the DPC, in an attempt to talk to the demonstrators, was punched and shoved.
He advised those with grievances and petitions to hand over or those planning to demonstrate, protest, or hold a procession to seek permission from the police so that they were protected ‘instead of just waking up to hold the public at ransom’.
The protesters vowed to hold another demonstration on Tuesday at Mbulamuti to reportedly show Ms Kadaga that all was not well and that she should therefore tread carefully.