Echoing Protests At Home, Overseas Ugandans Want Museveni To Go

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[The View From London]

Ugandans overseas are showing solidarity with compatriots back in the East African country who have braved bullets of dictator Gen. Yoweri Museveni's security forces in recent weeks by holding protests before the country's High Commission in London, reports Norman Miwambo.

Business came to a halt as protestors here, blocked the entrance to the Uganda London Mission 58-59 Trafalgar Square, Central London. For the last month, the protestors have been camping out-side the Mission here in support of their counterparts at home, demanding the Uganda Government to heed to the concerns and the welfare of all Ugandans.

Placards were printed with messages reading: “Ugandans demand freedom of speech, assembly and the press”; “Your taxes my taxes are paying for Uganda’s fighter jets act now”;  “Uganda army join the struggle for democracy”; “Uganda Gov’t must stop spraying chemical and toxic substances on its people”; “Uganda need democracy”; “ICC indict Museveni for Genocide”; were some of the messages adopted and displayed in front of the Uganda-London Mission at Trafalgar Square , whilst the crackdown on protest against Ugandan dictator continued on Thursday, May 12, in the capital of an east African country.

The protestors in the United Kingdom (UK), under the UPDF (United People Democratic Forces) a non-political organization; they called upon the army and the police forces to stop harassing unarmed civilians but to join the struggle.

“We believe majority of the army and police officers in Kampala are ready to heed to the cries and will of the population,” one of the organizers, Richard Semitego said, adding: “We have no problem with them; they are being used to serve the interests of few unremorseful individuals with the regime. But our call, it is time for them to avoid the ICC.”

Indeed in recent weeks Uganda's senior military commanders have distanced themselves in statements, from the harsh crackdown against civilians and opposition leaders by the secret police and pro-Museveni militias. On the day Gen. Museveni had himself inaugurated Thursday, demonstrators threw stones at the country's hated police chief Gen. Kale Kayihura

Semitego was trying to equate his message to the situation in North African country and the Middle East where the army and police forces have joined the uprising rather than suppressing the masses. The message and the courage exhibited shows a sign of Uganda becoming the first elsewhere in Africa.

Ugandans here put aside their political differences and argued with the British government and other donors to condemn the attacks against civilians, as they've done when the attacks were in Tunisia or Egyptian.

“It’s time for west to look at Museveni like other African despots,” said Betty Atiku, a member of UPDF a pressure group, lobbying the donor countries to intervene and stop Museveni’s regime before it is too late. She added: “We demand that all donors to open up their eyes and ears to the cries of millions of Ugandans who cannot afford a single meal, health care as a result of a corrupt regime of Museveni and his cronies.”

“Enough is enough; it is time for the west to view Museveni as an aggressor. There is no reason to continue maintaining a regime which only care about buying fighter jets,” said Ms. Atiku in reference to a recent deal worth $1.2 billion, that was signed by Museveni’s government to procure six Su-30MK2 model fighter jets from the Russia’s arms exporter Rosoboronexport. Ms Atiku added: “We are not at war, the west should help us get rid of Museveni who is now conditioned to violence rather than improving the dilapidating social service infrastructures in the country.”

Initially, the demonstrators had drafted their demands including; Uganda Police and other security organs should not subject opposition political activists to constant intimidation, torture and arbitrary arrests and imprisonment. Fresh, free and fair election in Uganda; Democracy must be restored in Uganda. Ugandans should be allowed to demonstrate peacefully without being shot at, tortures or dumped into jails and denied legal support. Freedom of the press should be respected. Journalists must be left to do their job without oppression, ‘under the pretext that you will later claim that it was mistake’ Social networks, Radio and television should not be closed down or interfered with by repressive NRM government. Stop misallocating Government resources on useless things like the recent purchase of the latest Fighter jets, military hardware, splashing money to bribe voters and staging a sham swearing in ceremony when hospitals and other infrastructures are in sorry state.

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