A security standoff in Uganda has ended with the National Unity Platform (NUP) inaugurating its new headquarters. The opposition party’s president, Robert Kyagulanyi, and former FDC president, Dr. Kizza Besigye, officially opened the new NUP headquarters in Makerere Kavule, Kawempe Division, Kampala, on November 3, 2023.
The security standoff, which lasted for hours, began when a joint military and police force sealed off the premises. The NUP claimed that the police did not provide any justifiable reason to restrict access to their new offices.
Robert Kyagulanyi, commonly known as Bobi Wine, stated that they had to change their initial plans to open the building after security forces blocked their access. Kyagulanyi, who has faced restrictions on public rallies and was forcibly removed from a return flight at Entebbe International Airport, expressed skepticism about the government’s reasons for the blockade.
He mentioned that the government cited President Museveni’s presence as a reason for the blockade. However, Kyagulanyi and other party leaders resolved not to engage in conflict and decided to open their offices as planned.
Kyagulanyi questioned the police’s claim of insufficient manpower, given the significant force deployed to prevent the NUP ceremony from taking place. The police also mentioned a shortage of security for the VIPs in the area, despite having received invitations from the NUP.
The situation escalated when the NUP insisted on proceeding with their plans despite a police order against gathering. Party officials argued that President Museveni’s presence in Kawempe created security concerns for both events.
Early the next morning, the new headquarters in Makerere Kavule was surrounded by soldiers and police, preventing NUP members, including MPs and invited guests, from entering the building. Heavily armed forces instructed them to leave or face arrest. Security measures were intensified across the division, leading to traffic disruptions.
The Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson, SSP Patrick Onyango, cited intelligence reports indicating that NUP members might defy their orders, anticipating public disorder.
Despite the security challenges, Medard Lubega Sseggona, MP of Busiro East, emphasized their determination to persevere in their struggle.
Tensions between NUP and the security forces have persisted, mirroring the struggles faced by other opposition groups. The political opposition accuses the police and military of being partisan forces that infringe on their constitutional rights, including the freedom of assembly.
Days prior to the inauguration, the Resident City Commissioner (RCC) for Kawempe, Mr. Yasin Njasabiggu, reportedly instructed NUP to reschedule the ceremony. Njasabiggu’s letter, addressed to the party’s secretary general, also requested that NUP inform relevant authorities about the event. However, NUP claims they never received the letter.