Kampala’s police, in collaboration with other security agencies, have deployed significantly in response to social media threats of mass demonstrations scheduled to commence on January 8, 2024. Authorities emphasize that no clearance has been granted for any protests, prompting the deployment of personnel to strategic locations in the city’s five divisions.
According to Patrick Onyango, the Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesman, they received copies of a circulating document on social media from political activists, outlining plans for demonstrations demanding the release of individuals arrested for political reasons. The document also declared the shutdown of businesses, public transport, and shops starting January 8, 2024, in protest against alleged security agency actions such as kidnapping, torture, and disappearances.
Onyango stressed that peaceful demonstrations are permissible if organizers obtain clearance from the Inspector General of Police (IGP). He warned against participating in unauthorized protests and revealed that the police had halted the demonstrations initiated without IGP clearance.
While sources suggested the National Unity Platform (NUP) as the force behind the protests, NUP’s deputy spokesperson, Waiswa Mufumbiro, denied the accusations, expressing concerns that it could be a police strategy to arrest more individuals on unclear grounds.
Police deployment included downtown Kampala and around Kisekka Market, where past arrests had occurred. Onyango confirmed the arrest of John Ddamulira, a spare parts dealer, but denied torture accusations made by some released youths.
In response to a list of alleged missing persons submitted by NUP Secretary General David Lewis Rubongoya, the Uganda Human Rights Commission released a report in October 2023. The findings indicated that 12 of the reported missing persons had been arrested on suspicion of offenses, while 18 remained unaccounted for.
Despite reports of political activists circulating flyers to intimidate taxi drivers, Rashid Ssekindi, the chairperson of Uganda Taxi Operators Federation, urged drivers to ignore such leaflets and continue with normal work.