Uganda’s Opposition members of Parliament criticized the Police over what they call continued harassment and demanded that government takes a position on whether the law regulating public gatherings has been suspended.
The MPs said that despite efforts to follow guidelines for holding public meetings as set out in the Public Order Management Act, Police continues to block all scheduled meetings and events.
Hon. Roland Mugume, (FDC, Rukungiri Munic.), said that members of the Opposition were being arrested illegally despite abiding by the requirements of the law.
“I am concerned about the brutal and illegal arrest of opposition leaders in the country. The Police and Army have been instructed by government to disorganize any political gathering of the Opposition,” he said adding that “They arrest any organizer despite the fact that they have prior knowledge of the meetings set.”
The MPs raised the concerns during the plenary sitting chaired by the Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah, on Tuesday, 23 April 2019.
Mugume cited the case of Kyaddondo East MP, Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi, who was blocked from holding musical shows at his private property in Busabala in Wakiso. The MP was driven to his home in Wakiso district and has been prevented from leaving.
Mugume also said that Police had blocked a meeting organized by the Forum for Democratic Change party in Kabale on 4 April 2019 despite informing Police about the same.
“Police have on several occasions interfered with the work of FDC, by beating up their leaders, supporters and arresting the former FDC President, Kizza Besigye, detaining him and later releasing him with no charge. This has affected the operation of registered parties,” he added.
Similar sentiments were raised by Hon. Betty Nambooze Bakireke (DP, Mukono Munic.), who demanded that government explains the behavior of the Police towards the Opposition.
“Parliament is supposed to assist members do their job as Members of Parliament but how will [MP Kyagulanyi] represent his people? He has been denied to carry out his profession, and cannot fulfill his duty of a legislator,” she said.
Butambala MP, Hon. Muhammad Kivumbi, demanded that government pronounces itself on the Public Order Management Act considering that even when it’s followed, the Police disregard its provisions.
The First Deputy Prime Minister, Gen. Moses Ali, however accused the Opposition MPs of not following the requirements of the Public Order Management Act, hence leading to their arrest by the Police.
Quoting the Police spokesperson, Moses Ali said that Hon. Kyagulanyi was blocked because he had not followed orders given by the Force.
“I will find out from the police the illegality of Hon. Kyagulanyi’s movements and music concerts,” he said.