US condemns raids, arrests ahead of tabling of age limit motion

Thursday September 21 2017

The US Ambassador to Uganda, Ms Deborah Malac

The US Ambassador to Uganda, Ms Deborah Malac speaking to journalists at the American Embassy in Kampala recently. PHOTO BY RACHEL MABALA 

By TABU BUTAGIRA

KAMPALA. The US Ambassador to Uganda, Ms Deborah Malac, on Thursday said on-going arrests by security forces of opponents of the proposal to remove the presidential age limit are “disturbing” and whittle down the space for democratic and free expression.
In a statement posted on the official social media page of the embassy, Ambassador Malac says the security crackdown and raids on two Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) risked “tarnishing” Uganda’s image globally.

“The United States is deeply concerned that recent arrests and raids stifle the Ugandan people’s right to free expression and tarnish Uganda’s global image. We are disturbed by reports of raids on NGOs, “she notes, adding: “Infringements on protected rights under Uganda’s Constitution will impede the country’s development. We call on the government of Uganda to guarantee all its citizens freedom of speech, expression, and assembly, without fear of intimidation.”

The Thursday statement comes after police a day earlier besieged headquarters of ActionAid and the Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies, both situated in Kampala city suburbs, saying they needed to search the offices for evidence of possible illicit financial transactions.
The offices of the NGOs remain closed, the staff locked out and detectives are continuing with the office-to-office searches.

In an interview on Thursday with the private television station, Nile Broadcasting Services (NBS), Information Minister Frank Tumwebaze says the security forces deployed on the streets are doing their work, with “adequate preparation”, following threats by some MPs that they would not allow Igara West lawmaker Raphael Magyezi on Thursday to present a motion to scrap presidential age limits capped at 75 years.
“Security forces cannot fold their arms and come and do postmortem,” Mr Tumwebaze says.

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