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Ugandan Legislators Arrested For COVID-19 Protests.

By Sarah Mazirwe – Kampala, Uganda, Monday, June 1, 2020. 

Hon Odong Otto being arrested.

Police in Uganda on Monday, June 1, 2020, detained two Members of Parliament (MPs) and other local leaders for allegedly mobilizing protesters in Gulu town in Northern Uganda to demand the closure of Elegu Border town.

Elegu borders Uganda from South Sudan where more cases of COVID-19 have been imported into the country, sources have told National Telegraph.

Hon Gilbert Olanya and his Aruu County counterpart, Hon. Samuel Odonga Otto were arrested in Gulu where they had mobilized youths and boda-boda operators to stage a demonstration over what they called increasing cases of COVID-19 in the country mostly brought in by the truckers who arrive in the country through Elegu border point.

232 out of 457 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Uganda are truck drivers. The lawmakers were arrested by a team of officers commanded by Gulu District police commander, Emmanuel Mafundo.

“The government is reluctant to close the Elegu border so that they keep us in lockdown yet people are starving. Our interest is that the government shuts down the Elegu border and locks down the entire town for two weeks in order to control infections currently stemming from there and spreading across the Acholi region,” one of the protesters told a local station in Northern Uganda.

On Saturday, Busia Municipality Legislator, Hon Geoffrey Macho was arrested on allegations of inciting violence and defying directives. Busia borders Kenya in the South East.

Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Hon Betty Aol Ochan justified the demonstration saying the Elegu border should be closed if the government has failed to test drivers and get results instantly.

“If they can’t manage Elegu border, then they should close Elegu border,” Hon Betty Aol Ochan said.

While addressing the nation today, President Museveni insisted that the expulsion of truck drivers and the closing of borders is suicidal since truck drivers carry essential products that support local factories that manufacture essential goods in the country.

He rather proposed that the government is working to have all cargo shifted from roads to train to reduce the transmission of cases.  

Last week, Kenya truck drivers were on strike over alleged mistreatment by Uganda authorities. They have since suspended movements to Uganda.

Uganda registered its first COVID-19 case on March 21, 2020. Uganda now has 457 COVID-19 cases with 72 recoveries. No death COVID-19 related cases have been reported, according to statistics on June 1, 2020.

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