Riots have now entered a second day. Generally, the City Centre is relatively calm but the situation is somewhat tense. More riots have been reported in the suburbs of Busega, Mukono, Kasubi and Nakulabye.
Among the dead is a policeman who, according to reports, was shot near the Total petrol station in the suburb of Nsambya by rioting youth after they disarmed him.
In Kasubi and Namugoona, the rioters have turned against the ‘non’ Baganda and uncomfirmed reports claim two people have been killed. Other unofficial sources also claim that a man has been hit with a stray bullet in Makerere University as Police fired at rioters from Wandegeya.
Akabozi Kubrli (Radio Two – sister radio to Radio One), Radio Sapientia – a catholic radio and Radio Suubi have now also been switched off for ‘inciting’ violence and promoting sectarianism. This brings the number to four radio stations that have been shut down so far by the Uganda Broadcasting Council after CBS (Buganda’s radio) was switched off yesterday evening.
Meanwhile as the riots continue, more army trucks are heading towards the City Centre.
THREE people were reported dead as violent riots linked to the Kabaka’s planned tour of Kayunga district spread to the city and across Buganda.
Uganda: Police Restraint Needed in Response to Protests
Human Rights Watch press release
The Ugandan police should stop using unnecessary lethal force against protesters in Kampala, where scores of people were injured and at least four died on September 10, 2009, Human Rights Watch said today.
Human Rights Watch called for a prompt and impartial investigation into the incident, and urged the police to use restraint during future protests.
The violence followed tensions caused by planned celebrations of National Youth Day in the eastern district of Kayunga on September 12.
A delegation from Uganda’s Buganda kingdom went there to observe preparations for the festivities, where the kabaka, the king of the Baganda people, was to make a formal presentation. The police stopped them from entering the district, where a breakaway ethnic faction, the Banyala, rejects the kabaka’s authority.
Baganda youth protested in the Kampala suburbs and downtown throughout the afternoon of September 10. Police reacted by firing tear gas and live ammunition. It remains unclear whether any of the protesters engaged in violence.
“The available evidence raises serious concerns that police used excessive force in confronting demonstrators,” said Georgette Gagnon, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “A thorough investigation is needed to find out who is responsible for yesterday’s violence.”
Human Rights Watch researchers witnessed at least 35 injured people arriving on motorcycle taxis and ambulances at Mulago National Hospital during a two-hour period in the evening. Most had been beaten or hit by rocks. Others had been shot and seriously wounded. Human Rights Watch saw the body of one man who witnesses said had been killed downtown by a stray bullet. A young boy was hit and killed by a stray bullet on the way home from school, a witness to that episode said.
The National Broadcasting Station televised severe beatings of civilians in the afternoon. In one instance, at least 30 people were assembled on a sidewalk, and the police forced men to remove their shirts. A group of men in civilian clothes, standing alongside the uniformed police, beat these people with large sticks. Witnesses said that the men who carried out the beatings are members of an informal volunteer militia known as the Kiboko Stick Squad, which works alongside the police. A police spokesperson denied that members of the Kiboko Stick Squad had been deployed.
The Uganda Broadcasting Council, a government body in charge of monitoring broadcasting services in the country, shut down one radio station, the Central Broadcasting Station, owned by the kingdom of Buganda, allegedly for engaging in sectarian acts. Taking the station off the air prevented people from getting information about violence in and around the city. Knowledgeable sources said that the council told another station, Radio Simba, to stop covering the day’s events or face being shut down.
During demonstrations, the police should abide by the United Nations Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, Human Rights Watch said. The principles call upon law enforcement officials to apply nonviolent means before resorting to the use of force, to use force only in proportion to the seriousness of the offense, and to use lethal force only when strictly unavoidable to protect life.
“Violence during protests may require that the police use force, but it must be proportionate,” said Gagnon. “Here it appears that the police use of live ammunition prompted an escalation in bloodshed.”
Museveni Switches CBS Radio Off and vows to abolish kingdoms
by Steven Candia,Chris Kiwawulo, Charles Arikoand Patrick Jaramogi
President Museveni ordered the closure of Kabaka’s CBS FM Radio after learning that the organizers of Ssabasajja’s tour of Bugerere had used it so effectively mobilize Baganda. By Tuesday CBS the information put out on CBS by “commander” Betty Nambooze, the chief organizers of Kabaka’s tour of Bugerere has become so effective that some Mmengo officials were estimating that a few hundred thousand people would accompany Ssabasajja. When Wednesday came, the commitments exploded, especially after rumors spread that Kabaka Mutebi told Museveni off in a phone conversation.
In a clear sign that Museveni was losing control the Banyarwanda community, who are deeply entrenched in Museveni’s intelligence agencies, announced that they support Kabaka’s visit and donated twenty lorries. Similarly, Nubians, Iteso, Basoga and other communities started calling on all their members to accompany Kabaka Mutebi to Bugerere. Even FDC’s Besigye went to CBS FM to challenge Baganda who keep saying “woligwa wendigwa” to prove their commitment by going to Kayunga; promising that he was going himself. Soon Baganda analysts were estimating that about 1 million Baganda and others would be in Kayunga on Saturday.
According to state house sources, after the Kampala riots on Thursday, Museveni was advised by Robert Kabushenga and Temale Mirundi that hell would break lose by Friday if CBS Radio was left to control the news. Museveni instructed the Rwandese chairman of the Broadcasting Council, Godfrey Mutabaazi, to switch off both CBS channels, 88.8 and 89.2. The two FM stations went off the air a little after 5:30 PM on Thursday.
The local press has quoted Buganda’s information Minister, Medard Lubega Sseggona saying that military officials had forcefully switched off the main mast that is erected at Buziga Hill in Kampala. However, the disconnection would not affect the planned Youth Day Celebrations at Kayunga. The Kayunga celebrations are scheduled for Saturday September 12, 2009.
At the time of posting this report, the organizers had gone to Plan B, using SMS messages to continue taking directions from the Nambooze committee.
Three killed in violent Kampala riots
The city suddenly flared up into chaos in the afternoon as Kabaka supporters engaged the Police in running battles. They pelted vehicles with stones, barricaded roads with logs and huge boulders, lit bonfires, looted property and torched buildings.
The chaos first erupted around Kiseka Market and spread quickly to Wandegeya, Bwaise, Kawempe and Maganjo-Kagoma? on Bombo Road, stretching the Police to the limit. Military Police moved in with armoured vehicles to take charge of the situation.
Offices and shops closed down and motorists vacated the roads amid sporadic gunfire, teargas explosions, a heavy presence of regular and anti-riot Police backed by military Police.
In Bwaise, demonstrators set a huge store on fire before going on a looting spree. The Police fire brigade put out the fire. The rioters also set ablaze the Natete Police station, and the vehicles parked there. A Police woman in Natete was stripped naked and beaten up. Reports also said some shops in the city were looted.
In the city centre, Kabaka supporters barricaded Entebbe Road near Centenary Bank with logs and burned tyres. They turned all vehicles away, threatening motorists and stopping them from going to Market Street.
Commotion erupted in Kawempe when four policemen, attempted to stop a rowdy group from barricading the road. They were disarmed and their guns taken. Kawempe Police boss Joel Aguma confirmed the incident.
Outside Kampala, too, rioters resorted to violence and looting. In Kyengera, on the Masaka highway, youth seized a truck loaded with sodas. They grabbed the sodas before burning the truck.
In Nabbingo, also on Masaka highway, irate youth stopped buses and roughed up passengers.
In Mukono angry youth attacked a bus, smashing the windows and injuring passengers. The Police rescued them.
Two of the dead were reportedly killed by stray bullets near Shoprite on Ben Kiwanuka Road.
One was a Saracen private security guard and the other a Congolese businessman who was shopping. A bullet ripped through his stomach. A third man was shot in the eye in Bwaise and died on the spot. The bodies were taken to Mulago Hospital.
The guard was standing in the door when I suddenly saw him fall down after a military truck fired live bullets in the air,
said a shaken Annet Namusisi, a telephone booth operator.
By evening, more than 30 people had been rushed to the casualty ward at Mulago Hospital with various injuries, ranging from gunshot wounds to broken limbs. Most of them were from Bwaise, Kalerwe and Kanyanya suburbs.
Four policemen were also rushed to Mulago Hospital with injuries. One of them, Alex Wabwire, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, had his leg shattered. He was reportedly shot by rioters who snatched a gun from a guard.
Eliphaz Sekabira, the hospital spokesperson, said 39 people were being treated. Three people were arrested and detained at the Central Police Station in connection with the riot, said Kampala metropolitan deputy Police spokesperson Henry Kalulu. However, many others were reportedly detained at Wandegeya Police Station.
It took the combined effort of the Police and the army to quell the riots in the city centre, which returned to relative calm at around 4:00pm. Thousands of commuters were stranded till late for lack of transport, forcing many to walk home. The few taxis on he road charged exorbitant fares.
By press time, major roads such as Masaka, Jinja, Gulu, Hoima and Entebbe roads, were still blocked by angry protesters with logs and bonfires.
Riots were also still going on in the suburbs of Kampala, such as Nateete, Bwaise and Busega, as well in the districts of Mityana, Mukono and Wakiso.
A motorist on Mityana Road said the road was blocked by protesters at Bira, causing a long queue on either side.
Stranded motorists and passengers, including foreigners, threatened by violent youth, were calling The New Vision journalists, pleading for help.
In Kampala, mambas with military policemen criss-crossed the city at night, while foot soldiers patrolled in single file.
I can abolish kingdoms, says Museveni
by Edris Kiggundu
President Museveni in a stern radio message carried by Star FM and UBC TV, two government broadcasters yesterday warned that as he restored kingdoms, he could abolish them.
“I am the one who advocated for the restorations of these institutions and If people misuse them, they can be removed,” he warned.
He said Buganda had no right to intimidate anybody and blamed CBS radio, for inflaming the tensions between Buganda and the central government. CBS radio was closed down yesterday and Museveni said it will only re-open after he has held talks with the Kabaka.
Invoking a hard stance after a series of demonstrations had rocked Kampala and claimed lives of more than ten people; Museveni said Buganda must behave within the constitutional limits.
He repeated his opposition to the federal system of governance that Buganda advocates for, arguing that it would be a recipe for chaos.
In an earlier meeting with Buganda NRM MPs, Museveni said Kabaka Mutebi had on several occasions refused to take his phone calls.
He said: “My reaction to these issues is to ring the king and we sort them out as mature people. But he could not pick or return my calls for the last two years.”
Meanwhile Kampalans woke up to more riots and acts of violence on Friday morning as military police patrolled the city, engaging some emboldened youths in running battles.
In the same vein, Mengo insisted that Kabaka’s scheduled visit to Bugerere in Kayunga district will go on tomorrow.
Buganda Attorney General, Apollo Makubuya while facing off with Kabakumba Matsiko the minister of Information and National Guidance in the central government during NTV’s On the Spot political show said the Baganda were ready to protect their Kabaka whether government provides him with security or not.
“The Kabaka is going to Bugerere and we are going to escort him and ensure that he is protected with or without government support,” Makubuya said.
Matsiko said government was not opposed to Kabaka’s visit to Kayunga but was pleading with Mengo to first hold talks with Banyala, a sub ethnic group of Baganda that resides in Bugerere before he could visit Kayunga.
Makubuya shot back that the central government has a hidden agenda of dividing and weakening Buganda by propping up groups like Banyala, Baruuli and Bakooki.
Uganda: Ten Feared Dead in City Riots
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.
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.”
Reported by Andrew Bagala, Robert Mwanje, Joseph Miti, Sharon Omurungi, Flavia Nalubega, Ismail Ladu, John Abimanyi, Mercy Nalugo & Risdel Kasasira.