Uganda: Bobi Wine, a test of NRM’s democratic credentials

Mamos Media

Supporters. People Power youth brigade arrive at the home of MP Robert Kyagulanyi in Magere, Wakiso District, on Monday. PHOTOS BY ALEX ESAGALA 


On Wednesday, two days after it had fired teargas and live ammunition to disperse crowds that were thronging Our Lady of Good Counsel Secondary School, Gayaza, in Wakiso District, where Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, had been scheduled to hold his first consultative meeting, the police in Lira District denied him access to Pacific Grand Hotel, where he had been scheduled to hold another meeting.
The legislator was driven out of Lira and dumped at Karuma Bridge outside Lira with express orders from the District Police Commander, Mr George Obia, to “return to Kampala”.

Another meeting that had been planned for Gulu District had also not materialised because the venue had been sealed off.
It is no surprise that the police has been behaving in such a manner. After all, it had previously dragged the former president of the Opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party, Dr Kizza Besigye, out of studios of FM radios in Jinja, Kabale, Mubende and Lira towns and switched some of the radios off. It had also disrupted FDC rallies in Mbale, Gulu, Rukungiri, Kasese and Mbarara districts.
Speaking in Kampala after the Gayaza meeting had been disrupted, police spokesperson Fred Enanga claimed the police had swung into action on Monday because the legislator had violated some sections of the Public Order Management Act (POMA), 2013, which requires such meetings to have been held in a closed place.

Mr Enanga, however, said the Lira meeting had been given the all-clear since the venue was in line with the recommendations of POMA. It was, therefore, strange that Mr Obia cited lack of preparation as the reason for disruption of the meeting.
Political actors and watchers have been left wondering why the police are acting the way they do long after the Electoral Commission (EC) released a road map, which suggests that nominations for some of the elected offices will be held in April, and those for the position of president in August with elections expected to be held in January 2021.
The secretary general of the Opposition Democratic Party (DP), Mr Gerald Siranda, says there are only two explanations, the first being that the police has become increasingly partisan.

“The police is behaving like a youth wing of the NRM. Police officers are acting more as politicians, and side politicians at that,” says Mr Siranda.
The deputy spokesperson of the police, Ms Polly Namaye, told Sunday Monitor that politicians have simply failed to appreciate the police’s constitutional role in the enforcement of law and order.
“We cannot completely separate the police from the activities of the State. The police are meant to maintain law and order as provided for under the Constitution. Let the people learn to separate the police from their political interests,” she says.
It is difficult not to agree with Mr Siranda because it appeared strange that the Force was blocking meetings that had been okayed by the EC.
On December 20, 2019, the electoral body cleared Mr Kyagulanyi, Mr John Herbert Nkugabwa, Mr Fred Mwesigye and Mr Joseph Mwambazi to hold nationwide consultative meetings about their planned candidatures.

It is also worth noting that the Attorney General (AG), Mr William Byaruhanga, on April 26, 2019, while responding to a letter that the minister for Internal Affairs had written to him questioning the basis on which Mr Kyagulanyi and Dr Besigye were going around politicking yet they are not leaders of political parties, noted the two were well within their rights as provided for under Article 29 of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of co-science, expression, movement, religion, assembly and association, including the right to demonstrate.
Mr Byaruhanga pointed out that their freedoms can only be curtailed “if they are deemed prejudicial to the rights and freedoms of others or the public interest.” It would appear that the contents of the Attorney General have never been relayed to the commanders in the districts, which would be absurd.

Presidential hopeful Robert Kyagulanyi, aka
Presidential hopeful Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, being escorted to a police cell on January 6, 2020. PHOTOS BY ALEX ESAGALA

Source Daily Monitor.

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