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Police Use Teargas to Block Opposition Leader from Touring Lubigi Wetland Site

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By Hason Mutunzi Bwambale

Kampala, Uganda – The Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Joel Ssenyonyi, was this morning blocked by police from touring the Lubigi wetland site, where the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) recently evicted residents for allegedly illegally occupying the wetlands.

Ssenyonyi had addressed the residents, condemning the discriminatory nature of NEMA’s evictions, which he claimed targeted only residents while allowing factories to operate in the wetlands. He then attempted to tour the site to assess the damage but was swiftly blocked by police.

The standoff between Ssenyonyi’s team and police lasted for about five minutes before teargas canisters were fired to disperse the residents who were protesting the police’s actions. Parliament security personnel intervened and whisked Ssenyonyi away to safety, while the other residents scampered for cover.

The opposition leader had earlier addressed the residents, criticizing NEMA’s handling of the evictions. “Why are factories allowed to operate in wetlands while residents are being evicted without notice or discussion?” he wondered. He promised to raise the matter in Parliament and push for a resolution.

The eviction of residents from Lubigi wetland has sparked outrage among locals, who claim they were not given adequate notice or compensation. NEMA, however, maintains that the evictions were necessary to protect the environment.

Today’s confrontation has raised tensions between the opposition and government, with Ssenyonyi accusing police of suppressing his right to access information and freedoms. The incident has also sparked fears of further clashes between residents and security forces in the area.

As the standoff continues, residents are calling for a resolution to the impasse, while Ssenyonyi has vowed to continue pushing for their rights. The matter is likely to feature prominently in Parliament in the coming days.

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