The Inspector General of Police, Kale Kayihura, has hurried to Makerere University after the two-day strike was blamed on presidential hopeful, Amama Mbabazi.
The strike that kicked off on Monday and resumed Tuesday night is seeking for the abolition of a policy which forces students to pay all tuition fees within the first six weeks.
The Makerere guild president, Bala Bwiruka, says he petitioned the university council to scrap the policy but to no avail.
Student leaders suggested students pay 60% by the 10th week but the administration refused.
For the better part of Tuesday night and Wednesday morning to afternoon was spent in running battles between police and students.
Police arrested over 40 students believed to be the ring leaders and locked them away.
Police also sprayed students with pepper gas and expired teargas sending three to hospital after their fainted and collapsed.
Strike blamed on Mbabazi
Meanwhile, the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) Electoral Commission chairman, Dr. Tanga Odoi, is quoted tagging the strike on Mbabazi.
Tanga who is also a member of Makerere University council allegedly accused Mbabazi of fuelling the strike during the Tuesday meeting meant to address the students’ grievances.
The NRM cadre allegedly told the council that some students were heard chanting Mbabazi’s name during the Monday demonstration.
The chanting of Mbabazi’s name is soon finding its way in Uganda law books as a criminal case.
In Kanungu and Ntungamo districts, politicians were kicked out of NRM primaries for chanting Mbabazi’s name.
Students deny the allegations
To the contrary, Makerere University Guild Information Minister, Davidson Ndyabahika, said government was trying to politicise the protest.
“We cannot tolerate the arrogance of some government officials in this university. Government refused to fund Makerere University in 1990 claiming they did not have money,” he is quoted by media as saying.
Ndyabahika even issued a statement saying:“We have received information that the state thinks that this strike is politically motivated by Mbabazi but we want to clear such misguided rumours.”
He added: “We are for students and the issues referred in here do not affect Mbabazi or any other politician but affects the students and our parents.”
According to him, government instead advised the university to allow privatization and have private students.
“If government cannot afford to continue funding this university to the fullest then why do they push the burden to the parents down there.”
Guild president arrested
Ndyabahika said although students tried to hold a “a peaceful demonstration”, police moved overboard and arrested the guild president, Bala when he tried to address them.
“We regret that fellow students have been brutalized by police amidst live bullets and heavy teargas.”
He added: “Very early in the morning, police held the guild president in University Hall where he resides, however he could not withstand receiving information that very many students are being arrested and beaten up by police.”
Among those arrested was also the Chairman Mitchell Hall has also been arrested by police, Hon. Jacinto Okello a GRC of School of Liberals.
Ndyabahika further accuses police of ferrying crime preventers in plain clothes to the university to “illegally” arrest students.
“As we talk now, police has ferried in trucks full of Crime Preventers in “layer” [sic] to back up the police and do intelligence,” he noted.
Military police presence too has been reported at the country’s most prestigious institution.
Donning their famous red tops, the military police allegedly arrested over 20 students in Kikoni, west of Makerere.
Kayihura rushes to the institution
In the afternoon, police chief Kayihura hurried to Makerere and engaged student leaders as well as administrators in a closed door meeting.
The university public relations officer, Ritah Namisango, said the leaders and police chief were still engrossed in negotiations to end the strike amicably.
By the time of publishing this story, Kayihura was still meeting student and university leaders.