On Tuesday, September 19, 2023, police forces were deployed to the Busabala area and around the Katonga offices, associated with opposition figure Dr. Kizza Besigye.
In close proximity to the planned conference venue, road barriers were set up, restricting access for non-resident motorists, and thorough traffic checks were conducted. A significant number of anti-riot police officers were stationed in both Busabala and Katonga. This development highlights the ongoing divisions within the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party.
FDC members have reported that the police have been present at Katonga since Monday night, a location designated for a parallel extraordinary delegates meeting scheduled for September 19 by party chairman Wasswa Birigwa.
FDC spokesperson Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda stated, “Unfortunately, the police, who initially stated they would not provide protection, have positioned three trucks to block roads in Busabala. They have also surrounded our Katonga accreditation center.” This deployment followed a High Court ruling on September 18 against the conference.
Ssemujju added, “We will be devising means of how we access Busabala or any other venue because delegates started arriving in Kampala yesterday.”
At Katonga, a substantial number of delegates from various parts of the country were present but were uncertain about their next steps. FDC Western region chairman Sunday Katembeya expressed, “We’re waiting to see how we are going to travel or what comes next because we don’t know what’s going on. We’re concerned about the police.”
Ssemujju continued to accuse FDC President Patrick Amuriat and party secretary general Nathan Nandala Mafabi of “using the police in continued attempts to capture and destroy the party to surrender it to Uganda’s President Museveni.” He claimed, “The FDC members want to rescue their party from Mafabi and Amuriat, who are paid agents of President Museveni because they fear party members are meeting.”
However, Ssemujju emphasized that the resources for Tuesday’s meeting were privately mobilized from local party loyalists and the diaspora.
When asked to explain their deployment, a policeman on the scene, featured in television footage, directed journalists to inquire with the Force’s spokesperson, stating, “I cannot tell you why we are here. I’m not authorized to speak.”
Over two months ago, the FDC became embroiled in chaos, with two rival factions making accusations that have resulted in a significant split within what was once Uganda’s leading opposition party. As of September 19, a faction loyal to the Najjanankumbi establishment, led by the current party president Amuriat, is moving forward with plans to hold a national delegates conference in October 2023.