Wednesday, March 9, 2011

--Calm returns to city this evening

A 100-person protest against the recent, flawed Ugandan election this afternoon fizzled out after about 10 minutes. Police dispersed the protesters marching in central Kampala with tear gas, according to reports from K-FM and other media.

The Daily Monitor newspaper on its Facebook page reported that police and military deployed heavily at Kisseka Market and were forced to use teargas and live bullets to chase away protestors. “We have managed to contain them and sealed off Kisseka market because if we had not done it, they would have destroyed a lot of property.” Police spokeswoman Judith Nabakooba said. “We have so far arrested 10 rioters. The situation is now calming down.”

K-FM also reported on unrelated clashes between vendors and police in Nakasero Marketplace, a crowded business district in central Kampala. Market vendors apparently lashed out at the police because they saw the heavy security force deployment as detrimental to business. Tear gas was also used at the marketplace, and 10 were arrested.

One Twitter message said that all over town, there are many more spectators than protesters.

Meanwhile, Red Pepper newspaper (a marginally-reliable tabloid) reports that shops and taxi parks have closed up throughout the central business district.

A flood of Twitter reports indicate a strong police/military presence throughout town. This seems plausible. Another tweet describes police armed with riot gear and batons, while a third tweeter said he saw police lounging around listening to the radio. These tweets are unconfirmed, of course, so take them for what they’re worth.

Meanwhile, things are very, very quiet in our neighborhood. There seems to be less traffic than usual, but otherwise, one would never notice that anything was amiss. We haven’t heard a single siren. Our neighborhood, filled with diplomats and foreign business people, is very safe, as is our guarded, walled apartment complex. We are just fine.

(Photos, from The Independent newspaper, by Jimmy Siya, perhaps Uganda's most talented spot news photographer).

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