Friday, September 11, 2009




President Museveni and Kabaka Ronald Mutebi spoke for the first time in two years on Wednesday night but failed to resolve the differences that led to yesterday’s bloody riots.

President Museveni last night released a pre-recorded statement and insisted that the central government would not allow the Kabaka’s visit to Kayunga, despite riots that claimed up to 10 lives and left the country under siege.

The Police refused to give a death toll from yesterday’s riots which started after the Kabaka’s advance team led by the Katikkiro, John Baptist Walusimbi, was blocked from entering Kayunga District.

Independent reports from across the central region, which saw the worst of the violence yesterday, however indicated that nearly a dozen people could have been killed in separate incidents.

The dead include high school student Geoffrey Andama shot at Shoprite Supermarket near the Clock Tower junction; Faisal Ssali, the bursar of Lukalu SS in Mpigi District; an unnamed private security guard, and a Kawempe businessman only identified as Yahweh.

Army spokesman, Lt. Col. Felix Kulayigye, who was assaulted and had his car vandalised by the rioters, said he was not “aware” of reports that the army shot and killed civilians as it helped the police to return calm to the city and neighbouring towns.

Police confirmed that 43 injured persons, among them five senior police officers, were being treated at Mulago Hospital.
Business was brought to a standstill as people fled the chaos in the inner city with some trekking over 20 kilometres to their homes. As darkness descended, more clashes were reported in the suburbs.

Heavily-armed soldiers from Bombo barracks in Luweero District lined the Gulu Highway, covering about 16 kilometres from Kawanda to Kubiri junction in the city, forcing pedestrians to manually fork burning materials.

In his statement aired on Radio Uganda last night, President Museveni insisted that the Kabaka will not be allowed to visit Kayunga unless Mengo officials, the Banyala leaders who are opposed to the visit, and Internal Affairs minister Kirunda Kivejinja meet over the matter.

That position appears untenable after President Museveni revealed that the Kabaka had rejected the proposal for the meeting. The President, however, left the door open to a resolution of the matter.
He said: “We shall not allow the visit to take place unless these conditions are met. However, I am ready to talk to the Kabaka.”

How it began
From a nucleus in Kisekka Market, the protest that witnesses said was engineered by handful vendors in the afternoon rapidly exploded to engulf at least seven of Buganda Districts - Wakiso, Mukono, Masaka, Mityana, Luweero, Buikwe and Mpigi.

The mayhem in the inner-city saw rioters, many described by Police as “thugs”, barricade several streets, including Kyagwe Road connecting to State House Nakasero.
They lit bonfires on main streets using vehicle tyres, tins and paper boxes while enthusiastically trumpeting the Buganda anthem and other such patriotic songs.

The army rolled out battle wagons, commonly called mambas, to buoy a struggling force of anti-riot Police over-stretched by rioters scattered in the city centre as well as Nateete, Wandegeya and Kamwokya outskirts.

In return, the protestors pelted the security operatives with stones, clubs and lit bonfires. The showdown intensified after the government decided to take Buganda kingdom-owned CBS FM off air for allegedly inciting the riots.

The Police clobbered individuals cornered in the disorder, beating them with batons as they tried to break up the riots.

In Wandegeya, a round-the-clock operating city suburb, protesters set alight a commercial building and in nearby Bwaise, four policemen were disarmed and beaten by rioters.
As is characteristic of most urban chaos, there was heavy looting, particularly in Nalukolongo and the attackers appeared to mainly target businesses owned by Asian nationals, forcing the foreigners to flee to Police for refuge.

Mr Henry Kalulu, the deputy Spokesman for Kampala Metropolitan Police, said they were keeping some 30 Asian nationals, some injured, at CPS Kampala for safety reasons moments after security forces rushed to evacuate many others trapped by rampaging youth in Kawempe.

People in downtown Kampala show that they mean no ill to be let through by Police. PHOTO BY JOSEPH KIGGUNDU
An Asian-owned supermarket in the area had earlier been set alight. Mr Kalulu said they had arrested a total 35 suspected demonstrators in Bwaise, Kawempe and Old Kampala but that number was expected to rise overnight as State actors combed the city.

“Some of the suspects were attempting to set petrol stations and other big businesses on fire,” said Mr Kalulu, adding: “The arrests are ongoing because our operation is still on until we restore peace in Kampala and the surrounding areas.”

In downtown Kampala, businesses including banks hurriedly closed and by 3pm, the Old and New Taxi Parks were scenes of bloody clashes. The, streets, too were empty as operators of public transport abandoned their trade amid blanket security imposed by a cocktail of security agencies.

The riots erupted after some FM radio stations reported a conversation between Mr Grace Turyagumunawe, the Police deputy director of operations and Buganda Katikkiro John Baptist Walusimbi in which the latter was blocked from entering Kayunga District at Sezibwa Bridge.

The Katikkiro was heading there to clear the way for an expected but contested visit by Kabaka Mutebi to preside over the Buganda Youth Day tomorrow.

However, a section of the ethnic Banyala say the Kabaka is an unwelcome chief guest at the festivities unless cleared by their cultural leader, Capt. Baker Kimeze.

Besigye jumps into fray
FDC party president Kizza Besigye, who blamed yesterday’s death “squarely on government” announced that he would attend tomorrow’s function in Kayunga because he is a “subject of the Kabaka” since he resides in Kasangati, Wakiso District in Buganda region.

“I don’t care whether the government frames or arrests me because they have done that before. The only thing I care about is my freedom and the freedom of other Ugandans. No amount of coercion will intimidate me,” he said last night.

Buganda officials said the Kabaka was safe overnight but they would not guarantee his security after government moved to replace his security detail.

The kingdom Attorney General, Mr Apollo Makubuya said: “I spoke to the Kabaka and he is safe and fine. But we can’t guarantee his security since the government has successfully created a crisis in the country.”