Ugandan police on Monday arrested two lawmakers for allegedly mobilizing protesters in order to demand the closure of a border town with South Sudan amid a rise in coronavirus cases, local media reported.
The two MPs from Kilak county, Gilbert Olanya and Samuel Odonga Otto, were arrested near Cerellenu, a suburb of Gulu town.
The demonstrators said Ugandans were getting infected by truckers who arrive in the country through the Elegu border point with South Sudan, according to the Daily Monitor news website.
A police spokesman said the politicians were arrested because they did not seek permission from the police.
An army official, meanwhile, said all means will be used against the protestors to prevent them from assembling.
“We shall use every means we have including force not to give way for such meaningless demonstrations... they break the social distance protocol during which we potentially risk getting more infections,” he was quoted as saying.
Protestors, meanwhile, expressed the urgent need to close the border town to avoid more virus cases.
“The government is reluctant to close Elegu border so that they keep us in lockdown, yet the people are starving,” Tony Oboma, one of the protestors, said. “Our interest is that the government shuts down Elegu border and lock down the entire town for two weeks in order to control infections currently stemming from there and spreading across Acholi region."
Gilbert Olanya, another protestor, expressed similar sentiments. "There could be cases of the virus in the community since the truck drivers have interacted freely with the community," he said.
As many as 450 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the East African country thus far, with no virus-linked deaths, according to figures compiled by Johns Hopkins University.