KAMPALA (BNO NEWS) — Ugandan police fired tear gas and water cannons on Wednesday to disperse opposition supporters who had gathered near the capital to mourn people killed during demonstrations earlier this year, local media reported.
Several hundred people staged a rally in the town of Kireka outside of Kamapala in memory of the people who were killed during protests against escalating food and fuel costs in April, according to the New Vision newspaper. The opposition accuses security forces of killing at least nine people during the demonstrations.
“We didn’t allow the crowd to grow big because we wanted to prevent the worst from happening … we were not opposed to the rally but they refused to listen to us on the venue where they should stage it,” Ibn Senkumbi, a police spokesman at the scene, said.
Deputy Foreign Secretary Anne Mugisha of the main opposition Forum for Democratic Change party criticized the heavy deployment of police and accused them of “criminalizing” the event. “The issue wasn’t really a disagreement about the venue. Police deployed early and turned Kireka town into a battlefield. They were determined to fight and as usual they found an excuse to brutalize peaceful activists but we’re not deterred a bit,” she said, as cited by the newspaper.
Strikes by teachers, traders and taxi drivers have increased in recent weeks and the opposition has vowed to continue protesting against President Yoweri Museveni’s government.
According to police, more than 100 people were injured and over 600 were arrested countrywide during the April unrest, in addition to the nine fatalities. Opposition leader Kizza Besigye was also arrested and allegedly beaten by police.