Uganda’s Museveni orders arrests, house arrests and media bans before inauguration

by Ann Garrison

KPFA Weekend News broadcast April 30, 2016

 

Uganda bans protest and press coverage of protest of Museveni’s inauguration.

Transcript

Dr. Kizza Besigye remains defiant, speaking to NTV Uganda on May 3, 2016.
Dr. Kizza Besigye remains defiant, speaking to NTV Uganda on May 3, 2016.

KPFA Weekend News Anchor: A Ugandan political party, Forum for Democratic Change, has announced plans to hold country-wide demonstrations ahead of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s inauguration on Thursday, May 12, because they believe that their candidate, Dr. Kizza Besigye, in fact won the election. Museveni’s government responded by banning not only the protests but also press coverage of the protest. KPFA’s Ann Garrison reports.

KPFA/Ann Garrison: Opposition arrests have been a weekly ritual at the Forum for Democratic Change, or FDC, headquarters in Kampala, Uganda, since the Feb. 18 presidential election, which FDC members and many other Ugandans believe to have been rightfully won by their candidate, Dr. Kizza Besigye. On Tuesday, Kampala’s military police arrested Pastor Happy Ngaba and 34 more people, including Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, at the FDC for flouting a Constitutional Court order to stop protesting.

Pastor Happy Ngoga faces arrest as he arrives at FDC headquarters to lead prayers on May 3, 2016.
Pastor Happy Ngabo faces arrest as he arrives at FDC headquarters to lead prayers on May 3, 2016.

Pastor Happy Ngabo told NTV Uganda that he does not fear arrest and that he had been leading prayers at the FDC headquarters, as he does every Tuesday.

Pastor Happy Ngabo: I’m not scared of being arrested. And if my arrest is going to set Uganda free, be it. Come Tuesday, I call upon Ugandans to come and pray. We will pray. Prayer cannot be stopped.

KPFA: Meanwhile, Dr. Kizza Besigye, the party’s presumed president-elect, remains under house arrest at his home on the outskirts of Kampala. Military police stopped journalists from reaching his home while his FDC allies were being arrested, but he was eventually able to tell NTV-Uganda that Police Chief Kale Kayihura has no legal right to detain him without charge.

Dr. Kizza Besigye: How can Kayihura say, “We shall not allow him now to move?” Impunity! Where does Mr. Kayihura get power to detain me without trial? You ask him! From this point onward, let’s proceed to stop this criminality.

KPFA: In “A Brilliant Genocide,” a documentary film, Dr. Kizza Besigye told Australian filmmaker Ebony Atlanta Butler that Museveni is in control of every aspect of Uganda’s government, including the electoral process.

Press surround Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago before his arrest on May 3, 2016.
Press surround Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago before his arrest on May 3, 2016.

KB: At the end of the day, all power belongs to the president. He’s the one who appoints the electoral commission. He has power to dismiss any or all members of the commission whenever he feels like without consulting anybody.

You have the military pervasive in the whole political process. You have the president having a free hand to raid the central bank and take out whatever amount of money he needs to influence electoral processes.

So there is simply a rule of impunity where the president, who is buttressed by the military, does whatever he likes in contempt of all other systems of government.

KPFA: And that was Dr. Kizza Besigye, the presidential candidate whom many Ugandans believe should be inaugurated on May 12 instead of incumbent President Yoweri Museveni.

Museveni is now in his 30th year in power. He is a longstanding ally of the United States, and Ugandan soldiers have served under U.S. command in Somalia, Mali, Darfur, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, and even in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For Pacifica, KPFA and AfrobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.

Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News, Counterpunch and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News, KPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at anniegarrison@gmail.com. In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting.


“Besigye Songa Mbere’’ in Swahili means “Besigye, move forward.”