Amama in Buliisa: The teargas and the rally that never was

Whoever prepared Candidate Amama Mbabazi’s itinerary to Buliisa had either never been to that part of the country or simply miscalculated the whole thing.

For a candidate who always leaves home after 9am, it was foolhardy for the planners to schedule him to address a rally at Biiso in Buliisa, there after head to Butiaba, Wansenko and Buliisa Sub County and hold the final rally in Masindi town.

Kampala to Buliisa is slightly over 200km and from Buliisa to Masindi is around 95km. With the bumpy roads the time it takes to traverse the area almost doubles.
It got worse when the team chose to use the Masindi route, the longest, instead of the bumpy but otherwise shorter Hoima route to get to Buliisa.

Anyway, the convoy got to Biiso at 2pm way past the scheduled 10am. It had first stopped in Masindi where Mr Mbabazi spent close to an hour haggling with police to release a vehicle which had been impounded for making rounds in town announcing Amama’s impending rally in the area.

With only four hours left and they still had Butiaba, Wanseko and Buliisa Sub County to address before the main rally in Masindi, it dawned upon the team that such a programme was unachievable.
“There is no way we can drive from Buliisa [town council] and be able to have a rally in Masindi,” drivers discussed amongst themselves, at a reasonable distance from where Mr Mbabazi was addressing a rally. “We should have passed Hoima. Imagine we didn’t even know this Masindi route we had to keep asking for directions.”

The drivers were right. By 8pm, Mr Mbabazi was still holed up in Buliisa. He got to Masindi at 10pm in the night. The crowd that had gathered had long gone—dismissed by the district Go Forward mobiliser at 6:30pm after learning that candidate had taken a rain check on them.
The poor routing planning aside, Mbabazi’s Buliisa tour also has a first— teargas.

Disquiet started immediately the convoy came to a halt at Biiso. A group of visibly charged boda boda riding youth attempted to lynch one of area mobilisers accusing him of pocketing what was supposed to be their allowance for escorting Mr Mbabazi through the dusty Biiso roads.

Police dispersed them but they were not convinced. Murmurs and finger-pointing continued. There was also an occasional “We want our money” as Mr Mbabazi spoke.

As the disquiet continued, Mr Godwin Angalia, leapfrogged the area’s favourite, Mr Derrick Padde, and introduced himself as the blessed Go Forward flag bearer for Buliisa County. The crowd murmured in disapproval.

Mr Angalia is the same person who, the boda boda youth said, had sent them to Mr Padde saying it was he who had their riding allowance. Padde had pled his way out of the rowdy youth and now the leapfrogging at the dais as the chosen area MP just confirmed to the youth who had their money.

As Mr Mbabazi came to the close of his address, the crowd got more restless. They wanted a part of Angalia. Mr Mbabazi sensed danger and asked his aides to ensure Angalia left the venue together with the convoy.

Outsmarted, and seeing that the person they wanted had been taken away, the youth started fighting among themselves. Those who had put on Go Froward T-shirts tore them, pulled out FDC posters and T-shirts and denounced Go Forward.

Some started targeting those who were supporting Anaglia and police could not take any of it. The crowd had to be dispersed and what better way if not by the use of teargas?