Streets in Kampala’s central business district (CBD) are bustling with activities despite public anxiety and heavy deployment over the upcoming presidential age limit debate in parliament.
With the deployment of police and the military in several strategic locations, speculation was rife that people would keep off the Central Business District in anticipation of demonstrations over the proposed move to remove Article 102(b) of the Constitution.
The motion for the amendment of the Article, which caps the presidential age at 75, is expected today after a failed attempt last Thursday. Amid the anxiety, various political groups and civil society organizations are mobilizing supporters to come out and challenge the planned amendment.
Last week, when the matter was expected in parliament, police engaged demonstrators in running battles, paralyzing business in several areas. But shops in Kampala are all open with business going on normally. Taxis and other motorists are also operating normally.
Jacob Okoku, a resident of Kireka, says he had feared to go to the city centre but is surprised with the calmness.
The Constitution Square in the centre of Kampala has been declared out of bounds for unauthorized personnel. The Square, usually a target for demonstrators, is closed to the public with tapes blocking all entrances.
While the police and military are stationed in the middle of the Square, crime preventers are manning the entrances, turning away people. Armored vehicles and fire engines are on the ready, in anticipation of any riotous developments.
Noah Bukenya, a boda-boda cyclist at the Square, told URN that the crime preventers started their operations in the wee hours of the morning.
Anti-riot police is also deployed at the Democratic Party (DP) headquarters at City House. A police patrol pickup full with heavily armed policemen is parked at the entrance to the DP offices as other police men are positioned around the building.
DP coined the anti-age limit removal campaign slogan, Kogikwatako, which has since caught on with different ethnicities coining their own versions.
Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesperson, Emilian Kayima, says the deployment is in response to, as he put it, “what’s going on in the country”.
City House also houses the offices of the youth wing of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).