Police Fire Live Ammunition During Political Clashes in Uganda

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien is a published journalist and historicist with over six years of experience in freelance journalism and research. His primary expertise is in African conflict and politics, with additional specialization in Israeli/Palestinian and Armenia/Azerbaijan conflicts. Sébastien serves as the deputy desk chief for Africa.

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A Heavy Handed Response

Disagreements between two factions of Uganda’s National Unity Platform (NUP) turned into a fight, which turned into clashes with the police on Monday, March 17th. The police dispersed crowds using tear gas and live ammunition.

The two factions, one led by Masaka Mayor Florence Namayanja, and the other by the former leader of the opposition in Parliament Mathias Mpuuga, had been meeting in Masaka city to discuss mobilization strategies, an in order to separate themselves from a number of former party members who had left to join the Patriotic League of Uganda (PLU).

The fights, and the defectors to other parties, came from the NUP’s proposed mobilization strategy, called ‘Kunga Uganda.’ The strategy has faced opposition from some key NUP leadership. A fight broke out between the two factions when the Mayor of Kimaanya-Kabonera, Steven Lukyamuzi who is loyal to Namayanja’s faction, read out a statement in order to disown the defectors. However, after he announced in the statement that the party would go ahead with Kunga Uganda, despite its opposition by a number of party members. Mpuuga and several other party leaders put a stop to Kunga Uganda in January, after claiming it was attempting to undermine several veteran party members.

After Lukyamuzi announced the plan to resume Kunga Uganda, one man loyal to Mpuuga stood up and grabbed a copy of the statement, before tearing it. After this, the fights began.

Soon after clashes erupted, anti-riot police arrived on scene and attempted to disperse the fighting crowd. They reportedly deployed tear gas and live ammunition to do so.

The Aftermath

It is unclear how many people were injured during the clashes, or if anyone was actually struck by the live fire employed by the police. The Masaka Sub-Region Police spokesman did however state that no arrests were carried out in relation to the incident.

Following clashes, Namayanja issued condemnations to the opposing side, stating “it’s now evident and no more questions on who is destabilizing our party and working for the regime, but we shall keep firm to our party mission and values.”

Many of those on Mpuuga’s faction expressed frustrations that they were not party to the drafting of the statement, which was issued as a joint statement.

Uganda is due to hold an election in 2026. Despite holding elections, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has drawn a number of accusations of authoritarianism, having been the President of Uganda since 1986, after he seized power during the Ugandan Bush War.