By Daily Monitor
Mbale- Security personnel in armoured vehicles yesterday fanned out all over Mbale with police allowing the distribution of money intended to draw residents away from presidential hopeful Amama Mbabazi, who plans to hold his first meeting in the town today.
With tension mounting, a show-down is feared after Mr Mbabaziâ€™s lawyers yesterday said their client will be in the district to get his leadership challenge officially underway although police have maintained that he will not be allowed to.
The director of police operations, Mr Andrew Felix Kaweesi, took charge after Police Chief Kale Kayihura dropped by earlier in the week.
â€œWe are not dealing with individuals but the party. Mr Mbabazi has not been cleared by the NRM party and, therefore, he will not hold his consultative meeting. And I am here to ensure that the meeting does not take place,â€ Mr Kaweesi, who has been in Mbale since Monday, said.
He is backed by deputy commander Riot Police in Bukedi Region Sam Omalla, Elgon region police chief Jacob Opolot and other senior security figures.
Police patrols covered the town centre, Malukhu, Shopping Centre, Namatala suburb, Mbale Resort Hotel where Mr Mbabaziâ€™s meeting had been booked, and Industrial Area.
Management at Mbale Resort, however, are reported to have come under intense pressure from unnamed authorities not to host the meeting.
Meanwhile, yesterday morning, Mr Omalla, Mr Opolot, Elgon region police spokesperson Diana Nandawula and several plain-clothed security operatives looked on as individuals claiming to be acting on behalf of Mr Museveni distributed money to each person who turned up at Mbale Sports Club.
Mr Abudallah Naleka, who last week hoodwinked police by dressing in a Museveni T-shirt before hosting a pro-Mbabazi meeting to discuss his visit to Mbale, was among those seen dishing out the cash.
Mr Naleka told the crowd that he was invited to State House at the weekend and asked to stop drumming up support for Mr Mbabazi.
â€œI apologise to you all that I had been misled to join the Mbabazi camp. After consultations, I now disassociate myself from them because the NRM party has agreed to rally behind Museveni as a sole candidate. I, therefore, urge all of you gathered here today to support President Museveni.
He also, through me, sent to you a token of Shs20,000 each for water,â€ Mr Naleka said.
On Monday, the Mbabazi group expelled Mr Naleka and Mr Karimu Mulilo after they learnt that the duo had led about 54 people to State House to meet President Museveni.
When asked to comment on police presence at the money distribution, Ms Nandawula said they okayed it after they found Museveni agents.
Hotel locks out Mbabazi
â€œBesides, we are also full and we canâ€™t have any other place for Mr Mbabazi,â€ he said. The coordinator of the eastern region Mbabazi taskforce, Mr Ahmed Washaki, yesterday said they asked the management who first agreed to host Mr Mbabazi and his supporters.
But shortly security operatives got into the hotel their request was turned down. Daily Monitor also learnt that management at Mt Elgon Hotel, the alternative venue, abruptly cancelled a booking on grounds that they should have been informed earlier.