Uganda Steps Up Security on Expectations of Opposition Protests

Uganda’s authorities stepped up security amid plans by opposition supporters to stage protests in coming weeks, the East African nation’s police chief said.

The Activists for Change group, known as A4C, “intends to begin another spate of disruptive activities” in various cities including Kampala, Major-General Kale Kayihura, the inspector- general of police, said in an e-mailed statement today.

The A4C is “a sinister project that must be shunned, because if allowed to be implemented, it will undermine the current efforts to solve the problems of the country and plunge the country into chaos,” he said. “The police and the other security agencies will not allow that to happen.”

Protests erupted in Uganda in April and May after inflation surged to a 17-year high amid rising costs of food and fuel. At least 11 people died and more than 480 were injured in violence during the demonstrations, Catherine Ntabadde, a spokeswoman for the Uganda Red Cross, said in a phone interview today.

A4C, which backed the protests, is a “non-violent and peaceful platform to dismantle authoritarianism and build democracy in Uganda,” according to its website.

“As long as we want to hold a rally which is lawful, we shall do it because we don’t have to ask for permission from the IGP,” Mathias Mpuga, the coordinator of A4C, said in a phone interview today.

Municipal Election

Police will be deployed in Entebbe, on the outskirts of Kampala, on Sept. 29 during a municipal by-election after the authorities received information that “some groups” plan to cause violence during the vote, Kayihura said.

Extra security will also be present at a soccer match between Kenyan and Ugandan teams on Oct. 8 in Kampala, a trade fair planned for Oct. 3 through Oct. 10, and during celebrations on Oct. 9 to mark the 49th anniversary of independence from Britain, he said.

The security measures are being taken after the police received reports that Uganda has been infiltrated by “youths trained in terror tactics” in Afghanistan who plan to carry out “disruptive and destructive activities,” Kayihura said. He didn’t provide further details.

By Paul Richardson and Fred Ojambo  Bloomberg.com

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