Heavily armed police personnel welcomed presidential aspirant also Kyadondo East MP, Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine) to Mbale’s Bugisu Co-operative Union (BCU) FM radio where he was due to appear on a Saturday morning political talk show.
Police and army trucks barricaded most roads leading to the Naboa Road based radio station where an ecstatic crowd had gathered as early as 7am chanting People Power slogans prompting the police to use tear gas and bullets to disperse them as Kyagulanyi arrived for the two-hour radio show that had been scheduled to run from 9:00am till 11:00 am.
For some days, the security personnel in the eastern Uganda town have been engaging the radio’s management, urging them not to host the pop music star.
According to the radio’s manager, Godfrey Kakungulu, the security had warned him not to entertain Kyagulanyi at the station, saying he would attract members of the public. He however insisted that the show will go on since the radio had invited Kyagulanyi and three other panelists.
“We asked them to help us keep the crowds away but to our surprise, the police turned away everyone including Kyagulanyi,” Kakungulu said.
Running battles ensued between the police and Kyagulanyi’s supporters leaving many injured and several opposition supporters detained at Mbale police station.
The Resident District Commissioner, Sulaiman Baraza Ogajjo, confirmed that they had warned the radio station against hosting Kyagulanyi because he hadn’t sought permission from the district’s security team.
He said that Mbale is a peaceful town that didn’t need Kyagulanyi’s disturbance.
The police action attracted anger from the leadership of People Power pressure group and the National Unity Platform (NUP) party.
“They surrounded the radio station and ordered the presenters not to host any political talk show. Why? Because it [was] Hon. Kyagulanyi [who was] going to be hosted,” NUP spokesman Joel Ssenyonyi told journalists at the party headquarters in Kampala.
“It baffles us because it is the sme government that not so long ago said that there’s not going to be political rallies, and advised politicians to [use] the media to reach out to the people. Mr. Museveni has been on TV and radio, and wherever he is to appear, it is mandatory for every media house to [put his address]. When Hon. Kyagulanyi books [airtime on] the radio stations, the state blocks him,” he added.
Last weekend, the police responded in a similar manner, barricading three radio stations in Mubende after word made round that one the radios planned to host Kyagulanyi. Police decreed that all political talk shows be put off.
Two weeks ago, five employees of the Jinja based Baba FM were questioned by the police after Kyagulanyi appeared on their Saturday morning political talk show, Council Yaife. Twahir Ddamulira who hosted the show spent at least two nights in police cells at Nalufenya police station.