Police Promises to Limit Use of Tear Gas in Quelling Protests

The Uganda Police Force has said that it will limit the use of tear gas in suppressing protests. 

This was revealed by the Police team led by the Police Chief of Joint Security Gen Jack Bakasumba while appearing before the Parliament’s Committee on Human Rights.  The committee that was set up last month is probing rights violations during the general elections.

Bakasumba appeared alongside Asan Kasingye the Political commissar of Police, Moses Kafeero the Kampala Metropolitan Commander and Edward Ochom the Director Operations among others. 

Members of the committee were concerned about the several clashes between the police and some aspiring candidates during the campaigns. 

However, Ochom said that the police was forced to use tear gas and fire live bullets to disperse rallies because the candidates and their supporters were holding rallies contrary to the Covid-19 preventive directives.

According to Ochom, some candidates publicly said they would defy Police directives during elections.

He cited instances in districts of Mbarara, Jinja where the Police openly clashed with former National Unity Platform (NUP) presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu and Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) Presidential candidate  Patrick Amuriat Oboi because they did not adhere to the guidelines and were defiant from the word go.

Ochom says that they had no other option than to use excessive force. He also said that some candidates’ supporters attacked police officers.

Following the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic, the Electoral Commission announced that campaigns and elections would be conducted per the Standard Operating Procedures- SOPs advanced by the Ministry of Health and World Health Organization- WHO. 

They include wearing masks, providing handwashing facilities and keeping social distance. The Electoral Commission, with guidance from the Ministry of Health, restricted political gatherings to 200 people and barred candidates from holding processions in undesignated areas. 

The commission encouraged candidates to use virtual campaigns through mass media to reach out to all voters across the country.

Kasingye revealed that they have resolved not to rush using tear gas on protestors.  He says that they will first warn the protestors using megaphones and use of water cannon to disperse the crowd.  

Kasingye also defended the involvement of the army and other security agencies in keeping law and order. He explained the police force has 45,000 police officers instead of the required 80,000.

Asked about the brutal arrest of former Forum for Democratic Change Presidential candidate Patrick Amuriat before his nomination at Kyambogo University, the Kampala Metropolitan Commander Moses Kafero said that they had received information that he was planning to march to Kyambogo with his supporters. 

Kawempe MP Latif Ssebagala welcomed the proposal to limit the use of tear gas. 

Monica Amoding said that the 2021 election was the most violent compared to the previous elections and asked Police to restrain themselves while dealing with the public.

She criticized the police for taking advantage of the Covid-19n pandemic to curtail freedom.



News Agencies