Otunnu: We Were Peaceful During Second Uganda Elections Protest
Teargas and bullets scattered demonstrators in the central Ugandan town of Jinja on Friday, during the second elections protest held by a newly formed coalition of four political parties in Uganda: the Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CAFFE).
The otherwise peaceful demonstration was broken up by police and security forces less than halfway through the day's events.
Olara Otunnu, president of the Uganda People's Congress and member of CAFFE, spoke to the Black Star News Saturday afternoon from Kampala about the chaotic event and described in detail the interactions of security personnel and police with the demonstrators.
Otunnu said before the march organizers were sent around Jinja town to educate people about the purpose of the demonstration and to urge them to remain calm and peaceful. Supporters were told to march "absolutely peacefully" regardless of the reaction of security forces deployed throughout the town.
Otunnu: ... the whole town was very much sensitized about our goals, and operation. So when we started, the whole thing was without incident, it was completely peaceful, more people were gathering as we went along, which is what we'd expected.
Military Shoots Teargas, Bullets
And so, this was swelling to maybe a further 3,000 people...When we were now approaching the area where we were going called Kazimingi, Kazimingi Grounds, where we were going to sign the Blue Book -- right there, in that place -- as we were moving forward, we were ambushed by security forces.
They began to shoot from behind us. They were not in front of us, they were not on our side, they were behind us when they began shooting live bullets and canisters of teargas.
Now at that stage -- it was very sudden -- a sudden outburst of (gun) fire, and people began to run for cover, because they didn't know what was going on.
Two Women Hospitalized
As we then tried to rescue her, and tried to take her to a place where she could get some attention, one of our people actually approached the police commander.
We asked him to go and say to the police commander -- can you please evacuate this woman who was badly injured? He (the commander) refused. We said, can one of your cars, one of your jeeps take her? He refused.
Later on we had to evacuate her from Jinja to a hospital in Kampala, to have them attend to her lips, which were also cut, and her foot, where she'd fractured her bone.
Jinja a 'War Zone'
So that is what happened in Jinja yesterday.
Otunnu: No, that is not true. they did not beat us, they did not touch us.
BlackStarNews: So what's next?
Related Article: Kampala Demonstration (March 9) Police Action Overshadows Peaceful Protest
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