Pictures on NTV, showed it all. The Uganda police wielding sticks, guns and anything they could lay their hands on as they moved to break up a demonstration put up by a group of women in opposition in Mbale.
The group is opposed to the retaining of the current Electoral Commission head .The Uganda Supreme Court in 2006 pronounced that the Presidential elections were not free and fair. Five years later we have the same man occupying the position and President Yoweri Museveni (the beneficiary of the disorganised election) has said Eng.Badru Kigundu will be in charge of next year’s general election.
These demonstrators were not armed but the use of excessive force and the brutality involved in their arrest once again brought the police to the spotlight.
There have been calls to check this brutality but these calls, it is evident, have fallen on deaf ears. The parliament in 2008 had a hearing where many testified in a probe into police brutality but not much was done. Not even Members of parliament have been spared or the leading opposition figures.
In today’s incident, more than 80 people were arrested and I will link the NTV report once it becomes available.
The Uganda police has warned that demonstrations will not be allowed in the country in the name of security after July 11 al Shabaab bombings in Kampala. General elections are only months away and it seems al Shabaab did not only kill 76 people on that fateful day, they left behind an environment that the current government will exploit to curtail any form of opposition and freedom of expression.
The Constitutional Court pronounced sometime back that the right to assembly is inherent, you just have to inform the police not to seek permission but like in many cases, the regime in Kampala has its own set of laws and it continues to demand people to seek permission in order to demonstrate.