Uganda Repression Spirals

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“We don’t know where Museveni is descending the country with all these sorts of intimidation. They have gone to the extent of equipping some section of unidentified individuals to start beating people.� She said the government’s campaign could spark “genocide.�

AFRICA NEWS

The Ugandan capital of Kampala has been gripped in tension following the arrest of two other Members of Parliament (MPs) on charges of planning a demonstration against the government’s plan to give away Mabira forest preserves to a Ugandan Asian business family in a sweet-heart deal.

Kampala recently erupted in a massive protest against the giveaway—the demonstration turned violent and police opened fire with live ammunition: a total of three people died. Since then, Ugandan legislators have begun to distance themselves from the government’s plan. The Asian family – the Mehtas – want to use the forest preserve to expand their sugarcane plantation.

John Ken Lukyamuzi, a leading environmentalist said: “I don’t think that Uganda is a right choice to host CHOGM if the situation is like as it is today,� a reference to the scheduled Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, to be held in Uganda in November. “I don’t know if Her Majesty the Queen of England can allow her pride to be associated with this regime. Given the current situation I don’t think that Uganda is right or ready to host the Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting in this kind of atmosphere.�

Arrested in the clampdown were MP Elias Lukwago (Kampala Central) together with MP Odonga Otto (Aruu County, Pader): both were held at the Central Police Station (CPS) but later the duo were transferred to the CID Headquarters after government opponents began milling around the city.

The two were among the MPs who have denounced the newly-created government Kiboko militia—they were instrumental in beating down demonstrators at what’s now known as the “Mabira Crusade,� the campaign to reverse the government’s forest give-away sweetheart deal.

“We are strongly protesting the arrest and persecution of the opposition MPs and we call on the International Community to keep a keen eye on the Ugandan government,� MP Nabilah Nagayi Sempala told The Black Star News in a telephone interview. “We don’t know where Museveni is descending the country with all these sorts of intimidation. They have gone to the extent of equipping some section of unidentified individuals to start beating people.� She said the government’s campaign could spark “genocide.�

Uganda security agencies no longer respect lawmakers. MP Otto had sent a letter to Police chief seeking permission to hold a rally to protest the creation of the dreaded militia—he copied MP Lukwago, among other responsible authorities. The protest took place without both MPs who were arrested.

Last week the Uganda Police arrested the shadow Minister of Internal Affairs and Human Rights and Justice Forum’s Hussein Kyanjo (MP Makindye West) and Shadow Minister for Water/Environment of Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) Beatrice Anywar Atim (Kitgum women MP). The duo were charged with inciting violence and participation in the demonstration against the Mabira Forest sweetheart deal.

Black Star correspondent Miwambo is based in London.

 

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