, 21 October, 2020 / 9:33 PM
The Inspector General of Police (IGP) in Uganda has reached out to Bishop John Baptist Kaggwa, expressing his apologies after security agencies disrupted a public function, which the Ugandan Bishop was presiding over.
The apology follows the events of October 17 when the 76-year-old retired Bishop was presiding over Holy Mass as part of the thanksgiving ceremony for the change of leadership at the Buganda Kingdom’s Mbogo clan.
Police officers who sought to disperse the crowd that had gathered at the main entrance of the Kingdom’s ancestral headquarters in Mityana, Central Uganda, the venue of the celebration, lobbied teargas that spread all over the place, causing commotion, with some congregants at the Holy Mass reportedly fainting.
“The IGP carried out a thorough review and evaluation of the incident, and acknowledges the operational lapse which led to the use of teargas that spread and impacted on the congregation and the public,” the Assistant IGP, Asan Kasingye who led a delegation of senior officers representing Uganda’s IGP, John Martins Okoth Ochola said in his Tuesday, October 20 statement published on Facebook.
In the statement, the IGP meant “to purposely meet” Bishop Kaggwa who is the emeritus of Uganda’s Masaka Diocese, and to express his apologies to him, “his family and the Catholic Church fraternity” following the October 17 teargas episode.
The IGP “applauded the Bishop for his resilient and steadfast leadership during this disruptive incident by the territorial Police,” Kasingye who is also the Chief Political Commissar of Uganda Police Force further said.
He noted that the IGP further requested that all leaders (including religious leaders) seek to always involve the Police in such events for better coordination amid the COVID-19 pandemic in order to minimize the risks of transmission among the entire public.
Other reports have indicated that the police used teargas to prevent opposition politicians from accessing the venue. One of the 2021 presidential candidate, popular musician and parliamentarian, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu popularly known as Bobi Wine who is a member of the Mbogo clan was among those barred, according to reports.
Soon after the teargas incident, Bobi Wine posted on Facebook, “I and other clan members … have been blocked from accessing the venue. Many young people were arrested and am informed that they are being held at Mityana Police.”
“It’s the habit of President Museveni and his regime to intimidate his most fierce opponent especially ahead of elections … This is basically to intimidate people,” he said in his Facebook post and added, “We strongly condemn this blatant disrespect of our culture and cultural institutions by the security forces.”
The October 17 event was organized to usher in Omutaka Namwama Augustine Nsereko as the new leader of the Buganda Kingdom’s Mbogo clan and bid farewell to his immediate predecessor, Elder Gajuule Kayiira Kasibante.
The disruption of the ceremony sparked protests from members of the Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II-led Buganda Kingdom.
The Prime Minister of Buganda’s Kingdom, Charles Peter Mayiga condemned the incident terming it “impunity.” He called on security agencies to handle such cultural matters “with utmost respect and caution.”
Meanwhile, the apology from the IGP has attracted mixed reactions from Facebook users, with Mukiibi Charles Brave saying, “Your apology means nothing because it has become your character to disrespect people and violate their rights and torturing all people that you suspect to support Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine).”
Simon Pieter Bugembe has described the IGP’s reaching out to Bishop Kaggwa and the Catholic Church as a “good gesture,” adding, “I’m waiting to see your apology to the Mbogo clan and to Buganda kingdom.”
“As a law-abiding citizen, I request that the police leadership desists from partisan violence! Protect all people and promote democracy in our country,” Bugembe has urged, noting, “All your acts are full of Musevenism which is bad for our nation! Museveni will go but the nation will remain.”
For Jim Lwanga, “A lot of Ugandans need to be apologized to by the Uganda Police Force,” which he says, “has been at the forefront of brutalizing citizens of this country.”
“We need him to make a public apology to all the people of Uganda for engaging in partisan politics and thereafter tender his resignation,” Kalungi Derick Kibirige has said referencing the IGP.
He added, “In so many cases the Uganda police (is) being misused especially to disperse any event that they assume is of the opposition” while protecting those affiliated to the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM).
“That’s a very commendable effort,” Araali Kahumuza has said in reference to the apology and added, “Mistakes happen and I am glad it is not being covered up. We can now move on well except those whose interest are in seeing disharmony and want political mileage from this incident.”
For Vic Taazan, the Uganda Police Force “is losing public trust because of getting involved in politics by National Resistance Movement (NRM) government.”
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