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Political Actors Hijacked Makerere University Demos – Police

Police have accused Uganda’s political actors of exploiting the tension at Makerere University to cultivate ground for unrest, Chimp Corps report.

Police Spokesperson Fred Enanga said much as students intended to demonstrate against tuition increment, “some political actors had a major presence in the demonstrations” which led to protracted battles with security forces.

He further said “the illegal protests progressed to day two, when they were hijacked by political actors and activists who were actively encouraging students to riot over tuition.”

Students last week took to the streets to demonstrate against the tuition increment policy passed in 2018.

Makerere University said there has been no tuition increment this academic year.

“The students continue to pay the fees as per the structure given to each student at the time of admission. The policy being contested by the students was approved and implemented in July 201,” said Makerere, adding, “ The policy was approved after a thorough report presented by the special committee of the Guild representatives appointed by the Guild leadership whose work started on 4th June 2018.”

The policy provided for uniform and moderate 15 percent increase in tuition fees across all programmes effective 2018/19 for the next 5 years.

This means that a student who joins the University at a given fees structure that has a 15 percent factored in, shall continue to pay similar fees until he completes the Course duration.

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The policy also provides that there will be no fees increment for continuing students.

Nevertheless, the students said this was discriminatory for the poor.

Enanga today said Joint Security Teams responded and beefed up security at the University following intelligence that the demonstrations were being spearheaded by political actors.

According to police, the political activists continued to “hide behind the guise of freedom of speech and issued inflammatory statements that could cost lives of some individuals.”

Enanga said in the crackdown on demonstrators, a total of 13 female protesters were arrested and placed under protective custody but were released that evening.

However, Police said, male protesters continued pelting security forces before running to their halls of residence.

“Despite numerous requests, orders and warnings of possible arrest, the pelting of stones continued,” said Enanga.

He said Police teams grappled with a deteriorating security situation until they decided to arrest 39 suspects, as the only option, until the threat levels reduced significantly.

He said seven suspects were “non-students but were actively taking part in the riots.”

Enanga observed: “We were justified not to give them permission due to intelligence reports that a serious disruption was an objective of this protest.   The protest is illegal. We also carried out searches in the halls of residence, where no weapons were found.  However, in the room of the female chairman of Mitchell, a search yielded a small jerry can of flammable liquid and illegal drugs.”

He said Police have stepped up presence at Makerere University and its neighbourhood and also intensified operations which include the use of snap checks at roads leading in and out of the education institution.

Management today called the students guild leadership for a meeting to resolve the impasse.

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