SUPPORT TO RESTORE DEMOCRACY, GOOD GOVERNANCE, SOCIAL JUSTICE AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN UGANDA

SUPPORT TO RESTORE DEMOCRACY, GOOD GOVERNANCE, SOCIAL JUSTICE AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN UGANDA

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The President

European Union Parliament

Your Excellency,

PETETION FOR SUPPORT TO RESTORE DEMOCRACY AND JUSTICE IN UGANDA

Uganda since the military takeover by the National Resistance Army/Movement (NRA/M) to date is still a country with the least protection for legitimate opposition, freedom of the press and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with the worst rates of corruption.

Since, 2001, in every general or bye election there is always heavy military deployment and crackdown on opposition, torture of civilians with numerous people killed, journalists beaten or jailed among others. Dr Kiiza Besigye one of the leading Ugandan Opposition leaders has gone through untold torture since 2001. In September 2017 the Parliament of Uganda was raided by the Special Forces Command and members of Parliament who resisted the forced amendment of the constitution to remove presidential age limit were beaten. In August 2018 opposition MP Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine the leader of the “People Power” Pressure Movement, MPs Gerald Karuhanga, Paul Mwiru, Kasiano Wadri and thirty others were unlawfully arrested, beaten and to date are undergoing trial for trumped up charges. In what is believed to be an assassination attempt on Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi, his driver Yasin Kawuma was shot dead in his official car. In the peaceful demonstrations that followed in various parts of the country, at least five people were reported killed and about 100 were detained in the so called police cells.

Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi since he declared his intention to vie for the presidency of Uganda in 2021 general elections, he, his career and businesses have been cracked on by the dictatorial regime. In a bid to carry out a nationwide consultation to further his presidential candidature, he notified in writing the Electoral Commission and other relevant authorities in Uganda; and he was duly cleared for the process by the Uganda’s Electoral Commission which was to start in his own constituency of Kyadondo East in Wakiso District on Monday 6th January 2020. The regime instead deployed the police, military police, the army and paramilitary forces to block the event. They arrested and detained Hon. Bobi Wine, other colleague MPs and leaders of People Power Movement in various police cells which are unconducive for humans. The regime has not only deployed heavily but gone ahead to order relevant authorities and security agencies in other districts not to allow the Consultations, and threatened the owners of the venues booked for the events to host them at their own risk.

Your Excellency it would interest you to hear that among the conditions given by Uganda police force for the nationwide consultations to take place is for Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi and the entire People Power Movement to provide their own ambulances, Firefighting equipment and sniffer dogs despite it being prerogative of the state and preserve for the force to serve the nation.

As believers in democratic governance and fundamental human rights, we believe, no legal opposition leader, activist or reporter should have to fear for their lives when speaking out against corruption or bad governance. But, given the current crackdowns on both democratic opposition, civil society, the media and the citizenry in the country, we, the residents of Sweden of Ugandan origin on behalf of all Ugandans living and working in EU States would like to appeal for more protection for those people and all citizens of Uganda suffering under unprecedented dictatorship.

We are aware of how much the EU both directly and in partnership has done to fund the democratisation process and development in Uganda. But, it should be understood that, well-intentioned laws can never work under bad governance, as is the case in Uganda, where the opposition, civil society and the media, which are essential in applying pressure and keeping governments honest and accountable are having their space increasingly narrowed under bad rules and laws.

Specifically, under the Public Order Management Act, freedom of association, including the ability of people to form groups and influence public policy, which is vital to anti-corruption, has been suffocated. Following the first violent disruption of Bobi Wine’s first consultation event in his own constituency, the Police issued a ban on private meetings even in private homes. You are aware that, opposition and civil society play a key role in denouncing violations of rights or speaking out against breaches of law. Similarly, a free and independent media serves an important function in investigating and reporting incidences of corruption. The voices of both civil society and journalists put a spotlight on bad actors and can help trigger action by law enforcement and the court system. Unfortunately, all these find their space narrowing since 2001 and it is getting worse to date.

The European Union has a long history of development cooperation with Uganda, since the NRA/M, under President Museveni, came to power, under the claim of restoring sanity and democratic rule in Uganda. This is evident in existing records from EU and the numerous Programmes, Projects and Activity Events organised by EU either directly or through partner organisation. We are left wondering whether, the EU support to Uganda’s NRM government or through NGOs, in the last 34 or so years, among others, has yielded any developmental or democratic benefit to the citizens? Unfortunately, this seems not to be the case.

Conclusion

Whereas the current government of Uganda has continued to receive finance and technical support from the EU and bilaterally from EU States, under the guise of aspiring to build democratic governance; protecting and promoting fundamental and other human rights; and developing the country; this has so far not to been the case for the last thirty-four years of President Museveni’s rule. This is because, under the NRM government, Uganda has experienced some of the most undemocratic and human rights abuses ever experienced before in the country; while the economic growth that has been touted around has only benefited a few cronies of the regime.

Recommendations

Your Excellency, Uganda’s case directly represents what one Professor and scholar, Robert Klitgaard (1988) explained, that institutional causes of corruption and bad governance flourish when government agents have (1) exclusive power over the people and resources, (2) they have a wide margin of discretionary power, and (3) they are not held accountable for their actions or inactions. We strongly believe this has been the case with the international community and the internal conditions that have allowed president Museveni to remain in power for so long. We therefore would like to recommend as well as request the EU and individual EU State governments to pressurise the government of Uganda to:

1.1.      Immediately adhere to Democratic Principles and free political space for all political actors in Uganda and cease the persecution and brutality on key political opponents in particular Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine in blocking his nationwide consultations and the entire coordination team of the popular revolutionary People Power Movement.

1.2.      Immediately restore democratisation process, first through consultations and referendum, in order to restore the fraudulent amendments to the 1995 constitution.

1.3.      The government must stop forth with the deployment of the army and the police in trying to settle its political failures.

1.4.      To have a clear separation of powers in the three arms of the government.

1.5.      To put in place a neutral, independent and permanent Electoral Commission before next year’s general elections.

1.6.      The government to put in place a permanent and pensionable Civic Education Commission, in order to develop a democratic culture in Uganda.

1.7.      Stop giving funds for democratisation directly to government if any, but extend the funds directly to CSOs and NGOs that participate in communities’ development.

1.8.      Last, but not least stop giving financial support to the regime if it refuses to change its anti-democratic methods and abuse of power.

1.9.      Mobilise other donor communities and governments to stop giving financial support that is turning kleptocratic and dispensing terror on its citizens.

We invest our confidence and trust, in the Democratic credentials of the EU States and the people in helping the people of our country getting to government and the life they deserve as humans and free people.

Thank you.

PETITIONERS

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