The Democratic Alliance, a loose coalition of opposition parties, politicians and civil society organizations has condemned the arrest of former Forum for Democratic Change president Dr Kizza Besigye, erstwhile Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and other opposition members.
Mbabazi was arrested at the Jinja Bridge while on his way to Mbale, where he was to hold consultative meetings with his supporters about his presidential aspirations. He was whisked off to Kiira Police Station where he is being held. Dr. Kizza Besigye was arrested in Kasansgati as he attempted to leave his home and is being held at Nagalama Police Station in Mukono District. Also being held are FDC’s Secretary for Mobilization Ingrid Turinawe, Amama Mbabazi’s daughter Rachel, who is at Lugazi Police Station and Ahmed Washaki, a supporter of Mbabazi from Bungokho, Mbale District among others.
In a statement read by the TDA chairman for campaign strategy and coordination Mr Asuman Basalirwa, the group condemned the arrests, saying the police had acted unprofessionally.
Mr Basalairwa said both Mbabazi and Besigye had not committed any crime by aspiring for the presidency.
Quoting from the Presidential Elections Act, he noted that a presidential aspirant is not supposed to ask for permission from the Electoral Commission but rather is only required to write to inform the Commission about his or her aspirations. “The Electoral Commission can only write back in receipt of the letter but not asking a candidate to harmonize with his or her party,” Basalirwa, a lawyer, said while addressing journalists at the Eureka Place, in the Ntinda suburb, on the outskirts of Kampala.
“It is not the first time that Dr. Kizza Besigye is being arrested for no crime committed and if the regime in power pushes us to the walls we will be left with no solution but to call upon Ugandans to rise and fight against injustices that the regime is inflicting on us,” he said.
Basalirwa also explained that the activities of the The Democratic Alliance are concomitant with the agitation for electoral reforms.
“TDA is to give impetus for electoral reforms and as we prepare for the elections (even future ones) we must be on the path of electoral reforms,” he noted.
He also wondered why police was accusing Mr Mbabazi for not ‘harmonizing’ with his party but went ahead and arrested Dr Besigye who has harmonized his position with his party, the FDC.
Also in attendance were TDA stalwarts: former UPC President Olara Otunnu, Conservative Party chairman John Ken Lukyamuzi, former Vice President Gilbert Bukenya, civil society activist Godbar Tumushabe, and former Buganda Katikiro Joseph Mulwanyamuli Ssemogerere among others.
In his speech former vice president Gilbert Bukenya said that President Museveni’s government is in a state of collapse and that why they are panicking.
Giving an example of the events in Mbale yesterday, Prof Bukenya wondered why President Museveni and other NRM politicians go around campaigning but turn around and block opposition politicians from holding peaceful assemblies and demonsrations.
“If they think we are not politically strong then why are we not allowed to talk to the people and why do they beat our supporters like the police and army did when I went to Masaka recently?” He asked.
John Ken Lukyamauzi, said government had dilly-dallied with the issue of electoral reforms, adding that government was hell bent on holding unfair elections.
“I will raise a motion on the floor of Parliament to have the issue of electoral reforms resolved once and for all,” he promised, adding that there were several colleagues who shared the idea of having electoral reforms in the country.