Kyadondo East Member of Parliament (MP) Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, has changed approaches, opting for more innovative ways for his presidential consultation meetings.
In the new plan to be unveiled soon, Bobi Wine roots for regular meetings with the police, and using tinted cars to avoid processions and making early bookings of venues to avoid disruptions from the law and order authorities.
“We are going to work more silently and try to meet all police requirements,” People Power spokesperson Joel Ssenyonyi told Sunday Monitor on Thursday.
Mr Ssenyonyi also said they were on course with upcoming programmes after the original schedules were sabotaged by the security agencies.
“We are making bookings with venue owners because when we meet the police, we shall need to have the receipts. We are also amending dates of the meetings but we we’ll still start with Kyadondo East because that is Bobi Wine’s base,” Mr Ssenyonyi said.
These new changes come shortly after the Electoral Commission (EC) mediated a meeting between the police and all presidential aspirants for the 2021 General Election.
Police, a few weeks ago, arrested Bobi Wine and his supporters as they headed to one of the venues of consultation meetings at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Gayaza, Wakiso District.
Bobi Wine was set to hold similar meetings in Gulu Town on January 7 and Lira Town on January 8, but both functions were blocked by the police.
Police then bundled Bobi Wine out of Lira and left him at Karuma Bridge and later ordered him to return to Kampala.
Other meetings were planned for between January 9 and 12 in the districts of Adjumani, Yumbe, Arua and Zombo but the gatherings were also called off following the police crackdown.
However, the stand-off prompted EC to call a mediation meeting where both the police and Bobi Wine team agreed to meet again and agree on new schedules.
In a follow up statement, the police said they had agreed on no processions, but would hold more meetings on management of traffic during the consultations as provided for by the Public Order Management Act, 2013.
“We shall take all necessary step to make sure the police are satisfied. We want to see where police would come out and make it difficult for us to meet the people for consultations,” Mr Ssenyonyi said.
While reacting to Bobi Wine’s change of tactics, Mr Crispy Kaheru, the former coordinator of Citizen Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU), said it is good that the police have mounted pressure on Bobi Wine and he has responded by becoming innovative.
“But if Bobi Wine begins to mobilise silently, the police or anyone responsible should worry. They have been hearing what he has been saying, now it will be hard. A Bobi Wine mobilising silently is more dangerous than one who is on social media and having processions, especially if his message is lethal,” he said.
Mr Apollo Kantinti, the former Kyadondo East MP, said Bobi Wine will surprise some people.
“He is not being static and showing that he is ready for the task ahead of him by adapting to each situation, but EC should rein in the police because it is their mandate to give guidance, where the police go wrong we expect them to come in and direct. We are yet to see this.”
Mr Rogers Mulindwa, the NRM secretariat spokesperson, said: “Bobi Wine has chosen a better option for himself. Politics is a game of choice and when one choses something, they should be sure that it will win them an election.”
Mr Harold Kaija, the Forum for Democratic Change deputy secretary general, said: “The only way to go is by defiance. Do not bend low for the junta because it will minimise you. Now that Bobi Wine has chosen to go silent, they will come out and ask why he is doing so. They will accuse him of organising a rebellion.”
Police speak out
In an interview on Thursday, police spokesperson Fred Enanga accused some Opposition politicians of deliberately opting for clashes with the police so as to gain public sympathy.
“We have always asked them to make sure they meet all requirements, but I think they deliberately violate this. As EC advised, we shall be meeting all the presidential aspirants to see their programmes for consultations,” Mr Enanga said.
Asked which part of the law they were quoting to ban processions, meetings in open space and the number of people the aspirant should meet at consultations, Mr Enanga said the regulations were privately set by EC and security agencies to ensure a smooth policing process.
“You cannot have 2,000 people meeting in a small place. So if we meet with the organisers and access the requirement, traffic flow and risk assessment, we could grant such a meeting to happen in the open. But we are also careful to assess if this will not turn into an open air campaign,” Mr Enanga added.