President Museveni yesterday announced plans to amend the Constitution to deny bail for murder, rape, treason, defilement and riot suspects as well as economic saboteurs until they serve a mandatory 180 days on remand.
Mr Museveni told a press conference at his Rwakitura home in Kiruhura District that once the 9th Parliament convenes on May 19, he will immediately introduce a Bill for the constitutional amendment to “discipline” individuals disturbing the country’s economy.
Daily Monitor bashed
“We cannot allow playing with the economy of Uganda to continue like that. No way,” he said in reference to the ongoing work-to-work demonstrations that keep spiraling into clashes between police and demonstrators.
The President, who criticised Daily Monitor’s reporting of the walk-to-work demonstration as “biased and malicious”, said the proposed law will as well punish media houses engaging in “irresponsible reporting”.
“Your reporting is either wrong or in some cases malicious,” he told journalists. “This is something I would really advise you to stop because this country belongs to Ugandans, not newspapers or radio stations.”
He took issue with a cover photo this newspaper published in the early days of the now month-long demonstrations, depicting men and women forced by security operatives to lie facing the sun with policemen, some brandishing assault rifles, keeping watch over them.
Some people, he said, mistook those individuals lying stiff on the ground as dead bodies and the picture’s wide circulation on the Internet damaged Uganda’s reputation internationally.
Mr Museveni said: “Now this is irresponsible reporting. It must stop because this country belongs to us, the wananchi (ordinary citizens), not a newspaper. The country has owners.”
He expressed displeasure that even when this newspaper proclaims to be balanced in its reporting and always publishes the truth, it never offered prominence to his story of opening Mpanga hydro station in Kamwenge District and a factory near Kampala during weeks of protests.
“Some of these groups seem to have no other work other than portraying Uganda as if it is in permanent chaos,” he added.
The President said his problem with the media is they have failed to criticise opposition politician Kizza Besigye for disobeying lawful orders, focusing only on brutality unleashed by security forces.
“If you, as a leader, don’t follow the law and I also don’t follow the law, that is the beginning of chaos. Leaders must be exemplary and follow the law.”
He, however, faulted police for beating civilians after arrest, saying they should simply handcuff such suspects and acknowledged the shooting dead of a toddler in Masaka as Police’s only other mistake so far in tackling the demonstrators.
Mr Museveni said the protests manifest “desperation” of a “sectarian and opportunistic” opposition – he called them part of reactionary politics - defeated in the February 18 vote even after the latter lied to the electorate to discredit the ruling government.
He said his swearing-in tomorrow at Kololo ceremonial grounds will not be interrupted by demonstrators and reported attempts by the opposition to inaugurate their own president will but be a “farce”.
“Nobody can stop the swearing-in except God. But Besigye, (DP president Norbert) Mao and (UPC’s Olara) Otunnu to stop the swearing-in of the President of Uganda who won the election, they must be out of their mind,” he said.
“The swearing-in will take place on time and no one will disturb it. They said we shall cause trouble but you cannot cause trouble because we are there to cause trouble.”
Asked how Dr Besigye will be handled today when he is expected to fly back, Mr Museveni revealed that FDC official and MP Cecilia Ogwal had contacted the Inspector General of Police, Kale Kayihura, and he anticipates no problem.