Besigye arrested again, US issues warning on protest crackdown, Uganda Civil Society wakes up

After spending Easter in a jail, Uganda’s opposition leader Dr.Kizza Besigye was granted bail with ridiculous conditions that he would not participate in walking to work for seven months. The abuse of judicial power was at display as the magistrate put a price tag on Besigye’s freedom. As it would turn out Besigye’s freedom was short-lived as the military and police blocked his car this morning, not even 48 hours had passed after he was granted bail. The military blocked Besigye’s car at the roundabout in the city near Uganda’s national referral hospital Mulago, smashed his window screens, pulled him out and loaded him into a van. This is the fourth time this month that Besigye has been violently arrested amidst protests of  high fuel prices that have tested President Museveni’s democracy rhetoric. Unlike in the past three instances, today Besigye was simply driving to the bank and the police told he was not allowed.

Shortly before his bail application hearing the U.S government had issued a warning to Ugandan government over the clamping down on people who are seeking to protest peacefully.

Freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are fundamental human rights and a critical component of democracy. We renew our call for the Ugandan government to respect the opposition’s right to express its viewpoints and citizens’ rights to demonstrate peacefully and without fear of intimidation.

This warning came as the police paraded hired, jobless Ugandan youth before cameras claiming they were getting money from the opposition to take part in the walk to work campaign. The infamous head of police Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura personally brought these youth who were visibly confused uttering inconsistent statements about the Walk to Work campaign. Instead of moving to address the issue that the opposition has capitalized on to rally Ugandans, government has concentrated on using force and violence targeting opposition leaders.

In the North western part of the country, the army issued statements claiming that a group of people had gathered arrows and bows to attack a military camp in a bid to portray the Walk to Work campaign as a ploy by opposition to topple government. It has even been rumoured that the opposition leaders are likely to face treason charges.

The government has gone as far to accuse the religious leaders of being partisan after they called for sanity to prevail. The government in Uganda seems not ready to listen to anybody, its eager to crash anyone giving a divergent view.

Today the civil society organizations under the NGO Forum have come out, after three weeks of silence, to condemn government response to Walk to Work, called for concrete actions to address high fuel prices, food insecurity and allow freedom of expression.

The organizations called on government to put an end to the “ increasingly burdensome political bureaucracy and instead redirect those resources to fulfill the promise of improved service delivery as stated in the NRM Manifesto for 2011-2016 and articulated in the National Development Plan.”

Among others they say:

Government must release all political leaders arrested for participating in the ‘walk to walk’ protests as they have not violated any provision in our Constitution, but have been victims of a number of unconstitutional provisions in some of our laws.

Government must have its priorities right. Given the dire situation, government must stay its lavish expenditure on consumption such as the Ushs 3 Billion budget for the Swearing in Ceremony and halt payment of Ushs 1.8 trillion on the 8 Fighter Jets till such a time when it is affordable to spend on them, and instead direct those finances to respond to the immediate food and fuel crisis.

Government must increase its budget and leadership in the agriculture sector in order to increase agricultural output and productivity, through, inter alia, investing in modern agricultural production methods, rain water harvesting technologies and alternative methods such as irrigation to save the country from being overly dependent on the vagaries of natural weather. This will also go along way in creating employment.

The Government must review, update and implement a food security policy that will ensure that commercial export objectives are not promoted at the expense of domestic food security needs.

The government must transparently expedite oil production, meaningfully inform the public and ensure that value addition is carried out in Uganda to reduce on dependency on oil imports.

The Government must stop its present attitude in dismissing or suppressing dissenting views and recommit to creating a space for genuine dialogue amongst key stakeholders in political and civil society, as well as the private sector on historical and contemporary challenges facing the country; political, economic, social and others.

Above all, the President must take stern action against corruption, which is increasingly becoming Uganda’s number one development challenge.

Organisations also called on the opposition parties behind walk to work campaign to work within constitutional means and inform police of their activities to prevent any possible loss of lives.

12 thoughts on “Besigye arrested again, US issues warning on protest crackdown, Uganda Civil Society wakes up

  1. Organisations also called on the opposition parties behind walk to work campaign to work within constitutional means and inform police of their activities to prevent any possible loss of lives.

    What makes them think the government shall grant people the chance to speak out against unfair governance? All the protests were calm until the police and army came in to break them up. Freedom of speech and expression are fundamental human rights. Why should I seek permission from the government to speak out against its biased policies and failed administration?

    1. I agree with you BM it’s a catch 22. how do you tell police your plans when you know they wont allow you or they have orders to kick you? I take that part to be a sort of balance of a statement that heavily criticises the government.

  2. Am so disgusted by the way police is acting, These unlawful acts,throwing uhhm feeling like its too much for uncle Besigye seems where we are heading to ?????????????? God knows
    It would have been a quick successful uprising only if we were white…i mean Arabic!

  3. What is happening now is what is known as areal ‘political circle’ and it’s clear that politicians are ever like that! so we are not scared about it. what is being done will never and cannot give a solution to the on going inflation growth. the scenario just needs peace full means but not the manual means. we all deserve exactly what we work for! And God ever fair

    1. Mr. Mulindwa if you read the situation well its beyond just the inflation and fuel prices people also want their right to express their dissatisfaction with anything related to the regime in a peaceful demonstration which this government has denied them. As they one wants more when one is denied, Museveni and his government shd have known that already.

  4. Rosebell, thank you so much for your excellent, honest and courageous journalism! What you are doing is important for Uganda, but also for those of us outside of your country who care about it and are concerned about the economic difficulties that Ugandans face and with their rights, and who are saddened and angered by the violence with which the government has responded when people have tried to express those rights peacefully. Some people in my own government (the USA) have finally started to criticize President Museveni and others responsible for the violence, but I fear that they will only say some words that sound good, without doing anything that will really have good effects. After all, they have long tolerated all the corruption, and Museveni is our good ally in the “War on Terror” — in fact, he brought terror to Kampala by his willingness to serve US interests in Somalia (and is it completely coincidental that he has greatly increased the number of Ugandan soldiers in Somalia at a time when he faces serious pressure for democracy and accountability at home?). The reality is that the US government only really supports human rights when the President, the Congress, and the increasingly narrow oligarchy who control more and power here think that this advances “our” (their) foreign policy and economic interests. I’m afraid that Museveni is their man, just like Mubarak was. In the end, though, not even Mubarak told his soldiers to shoot the Egyptian citizens in Tahir Square. My heart goes out to the Ugandan people, including those who honestly support Museveni but do not want the violence and corruption, and I thank you again for keeping us informed and wish you all success!

    1. I agree with you David but we hve to take advantage of the changing mood towards dictators on the continent. Its ourselfs who will bring us freedom.

  5. Dictators all over the world are the same, they do not invent new tricks they use the old tricks used by other dictators like Hitler, Sadam, Musolin and thus learn nothing and forget nothing from histroy not fogeting our own Idi Amin. And so is Museveni Now

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