Internal Affairs Minister Gen. Kahinda Otafiire has issued an apology to National Unity Platform (NUP) President Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, in connection with the recent incident at Entebbe International Airport.
Specifically, Mr. Kyagulanyi was swiftly escorted by security personnel disguised as airport employees upon his arrival at his residence in Magere, Wakiso district. The intention behind this action was to prevent him from leading a planned procession from Entebbe with his supporters.
Nevertheless, Minister Otafiire has asserted that this operation prevented a potential outbreak of violence, particularly among supporters, which could have resulted in casualties due to stampedes and disturbances.
Otafiire has clarified that the operation was conducted with careful consideration for Kyagulanyi’s human rights and that he was safely transported to his home without harm to anyone involved.
In his own words, Minister Otafiire stated, “If Kyagulanyi is dissatisfied with our handling of the situation and is upset, I express my regret to him and all those affected by this action. However, it was done to prevent harm to many.”
The minister made these remarks during a radio interview on Friday morning, where he responded to questions from a journalist regarding the handling of Kyagulanyi and the treatment of journalists covering his return. Several journalists were subjected to harsh treatment by security personnel, and their equipment was confiscated.
Nonetheless, Otafiire commended the security personnel for their handling of the situation, emphasizing that previous confrontations between Kyagulanyi and security forces had resulted in fatalities. He also stated that the operation protected ordinary citizens whose businesses could have been disrupted by the procession.
The police had previously cautioned both supporters and the general public against assembling in large numbers to welcome Kyagulanyi back. He had been abroad, participating in various programs with his diaspora supporters. By the time of the report, several leaders and supporters remained in custody over this matter.
Notably, Minister Otafiire did not explicitly condemn the mistreatment of journalists. However, numerous human rights organizations have decried these actions, asserting that many of the journalists carried identification and wore press jackets but were still subjected to violence by security personnel.
The Human Rights Network for Journalists Uganda called for an investigation into the conduct of the security operatives involved, condemning the ongoing violation of journalists’ human rights.