The National Resistance Movement (NRM) leaders in Mbale District have expressed disappointment with police after their supporters were allegedly teargased while celebrating the launch of yellow movement campaign in the town at the weekend.
Mr Mahmound Masaba, the Mbale NRM party chairman, told journalists that they were angered and disturbed by the way police handled them.
“We launched our movement as a ruling party to encounter the Opposition’s People Power but unfortunately, as our supporters were marching in town, police swung into action and teargased them without any explanation,” he said.
The NRM supporters on Saturday launched a campaign dubbed ‘Team No Sleep’ at Nakaloke Town Council, where the director of administration and mobilisation, Mr Hassan Galiwango, was the guest of honour.
After the launch, the supporters, who were wearing yellow ribbons, marched from Nakaloke to Mbale Town while chatting pro NRM and President Museveni slogans.
The high spirited supporters were, however, countered by anti-riot police officers on Republic Street near the central police station who used teargas to disperse them.
Mr Masaba said despite the supporters being clad in the party uniform, placards and carrying party banners and flags, they were teargassed.
“It’s regrettable that police is now fighting the NRM leadership in the district,” he lamented.
He warned that if this kind of confrontation continues, the Opposition will have an upper hand with the support of the ruling party shrinking slowly.
Mr Hassan Mageyo, a party supporter, said the acts of police were against the spirit of good leadership and professionalism and should be condemned.
“Some of our supporters sustained injuries yet we were not protesting but celebrating,” he said.
Mr Galiwango said the objective of the march was to rally support for the party and prevent Opposition from misleading the youth.
“This movement is aimed at rallying support for the party and it is not like people power, which is only intended to misled people since it has no agenda,” he said.
But the district police commander, Mr Mathias Turyasingura, defended their action, saying the NRM supporters had attacked the police station.
“We should distinguish between party politics and criminality. They came with goons and attacked the police station. They were also blocking roads, which is unacceptable,” he said.
However, the NRM supporters claimed they had camped at the police station for security reasons.
“We wanted to celebrate at the police station because we feared to be attacked by youth belonging to people power pressure group,” Mr David Mafabi, one of the supporters, said.
The opposition supporters and leaders in the district, however, applauded police for its action.