Presidential candidate Bobi Wine being welcomed in Gulu City
On 12th November this year, the National Unity Platform –NUP Party President Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, alias Bobi Wine, who is a presidential candidate had his campaign launch in Gulu City, an event that attracted hundreds of supporters.
A few days after, National Resistance Movement (NRM) party Chairman Yoweri Museveni who is battling 11 other candidates to retain his seat as the president of the country had a similar event on Monday 16th November that also attracted hundreds of supporters from the districts of Gulu, Omoro, Nwoya and Amuru.
Though the two major events were of the same nature, how they were handled were quite different- an indication that the political ground in the country is a steeply tilted playing filed. The only similar things in the events are heavy deployment of security personnel and hundreds of crowd that were attracted. Other things did not match.
For Bobi Wine, the heavy deployment of security personnel was to lead him to the venue for rally through a diversionary route away from the Gulu business center. This was to stop his supporters from cheering at him as teargas and live bullets were fired to disperse the crowd during the climax of the event. After reaching Gulu City from Pader, Bobi Wine was forced by police to move through Airfield Road to Lagony Road instead of the main street where hundreds of his supporters and onlookers were ready to receive him.
On reaching Awere Play grounds, where he held the rally, police gave him less than half an hour to address his supporters. He only sang an acapella of his song “We are fighting for freedom,” and later introduced aspirants in the district under NUP party ticket before he was stopped and ordered to leave the premises. Just few minutes after leaving the premises, police under the command of Emmanuel Mafundo, the Gulu District Commander, began firing teargas to disperse the supporters who were leaving the venue.
As the crowd dispersed, they went on to fire both teargas and live bullets after Bobi Wine and his team drove out of town. In the process of dispersing the crowd, many sustained injuries and were taken for treatment at St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor, while others were arrested and detained at Gulu Central Police Station on charges not availed to Black Star News. For Yoweri Museveni, things were a lot more different. Campaign posters of other candidates were defaced at the dawn of Monday and replaced with that of Museveni. Though defacing campaign posters is a criminal act, no one was held responsible for this one.
The Field Force Police, traffic police and Special Forces Command officers were deployed in the city. The NRM party supporters held precessions without observing the standard operating procedures and all the security personnel could do was to dance to the tune of the melody of the songs of praises to Museveni. One of the journalists filming the processions asked a police traffic officer manning traffic flow at one of the roundabouts isn’t the processions affecting traffic flow. “Not at all. Not as such” was the respond from the officer.
When the journalist asked why he said so, he simply walked away in silence. On one occasion, Museveni was seen stopping the Special Forces Command Officers from maintaining order among the excited crowd who had gathered outside Watoto Church playground, where he was addressing the party delegate.
“Leave them. Let them be, for us who are here let’s listen to what I am saying,” Museveni ordered his officers and in response, the delegate gave a thunderous clap to him. Museveni spoke at length and after finishing, beyond walked away. No single bullet or teargas was fired. With this two national events, even an ordinary person with no knowledge in politics can easily point out that the political ground in Uganda is not level. Some candidates are more privileged than others.