The government yesterday said opposition leader Kizza Besigye’s activities around the city will remain restricted because allowing the politician free access to town could help him bring down a
“legitimately elected government through chaos.”
A government spokesperson made the remarks after Dr Besigye was, for a second day running, prevented from getting into town by the police. The Force never provided details of what it claimed was intelligence information pointing to planned mischief by the politician, which reportedly informed their decision.
Yesterday afternoon, Dr Besigye was first placed under preventive arrest at his home, despite last year’s ruling by Kasangati Grade One Magistrate Jessica Chemery that it was unlawful for police to detain him in a place not gazetted as a detention centre.
Police later picked him from an access road that leads up to his Kasangati home, bundled him into a waiting van and drove him to Kira Police Station. By press time, no charges had been preferred against him.
Col Shaban Bantariza, the deputy executive director of the Media Centre, said Dr Besigye rejected the 2011 poll results, insisting they were rigged, and vowed to protest and bring down the government.
“It is no longer possible to go to the bush and fight and they [the opposition] are not being patient for the ballot in 2016. That is why they are engaging in chaos with the hope of bringing the government down,” Col Bantariza said.
He added: “Besigye belongs to 4GC which has been outlawed. Their argument is that the government in power was elected illegally and that they will use any means to bring it down.”
Local and international rights organisations, however, last evening said the police’s actions against the opposition leader were “draconian, brutal and troubling.”
Ms Maria Burnett, the Human Rights Watch senior researcher for Africa, challenged the Force to provide evidence of “wrongdoing” against Dr Besigye.
“Besigye should have the same rights as all Ugandans to move freely and discuss key issues,” Ms Burnett wrote in an email.
Mr Livingstone Ssewanyana, the executive director of the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, said police’s actions should be challenged in the Constitutional Court: “It is an abuse of one’s individual freedom of movement, expression and assembly.”
Yesterday, Mr Mathias Mpuuga, the coordinator of 4GC, a pressure group behind the protests, rejected the government’s views, saying it was part of the process of “circumventing justice.”
Meanwhile, 4GC also announced it was calling nationwide protests beginning today against “mismanagement of the economy, excessive taxation and abuse of office.”