The US government has urged both the opposition legislators and government to refrain from violence while debating the prickly issue of the presidential age limit.
The US ambassador Deborah Malac’s counsel is contained in a statement released by the Embassy following two days of chaotic scenes at Parliament that resulted in plain-clothed security officers storming Parliament and forcefully evicting several opposition MPs.
According to ambassador Malac, Ugandans have the right to discuss and decide on the issue freely, without fear of intimidation.
“We are disturbed by reports of multiple arrests throughout the country, including reports of arrests and rough treatment of some Members of Parliament, and we expect Ugandan authorities to treat all of these individuals humanely,” Ambassador Malac wrote.
She also castigated government’s directive to terminate live broadcasting of legislative proceedings.
“The media has an important and legitimate role to play in ensuring all Ugandans can follow the proceedings of their elected legislative representatives,” she wrote.
Ambassador Malac added: “Ugandan people have a responsibility to conduct themselves peacefully, and the Government of Uganda has a responsibility to protect the people’s constitutional rights of freedom of speech, expression, and assembly.”
And yesterday the Inspector General of Police General Kale Kayihura acknowledged the presence of Special Forces Command (SFC) soldiers and ‘other security agencies’ during yesterday’s chaos at Parliament.
According to Kayihura, he invited the SFC and other security agencies to reinforce the police. “If it is to blame, it is me who invited a sister security organ to assist police, that is why you saw them in civilian attire at in Parliament,” Gen. Kayihura said.
It should be recalled that on Wednesday, September 27 Parliament descended into the second day of chaos after the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga suspended 24 opposition MPs and one National Resistance Movement (NRM) legislator, the State Minister for Water Resources Ronald Kibuule, for three sittings, citing indiscipline.
The Speaker’s decision followed allegations made on Monday by Kira Municipality MP Ssemujju Nganda that Minister Kibuule had sneaked in the parliamentary chambers with a gun, and threatened him.
The police has since summoned opposition MPs for interrogation and among them is Allan Ssewanyana, Robert Kyagulanyi, Monica Amoding, Sam Lyomoki, Moses Kasibante, Betty Nambooze, Francis Zaake, Ibrahim Kasozi, Willaim Nzoghu, Gilbert Olanya and Muhammad Nsereko. Others are Odonga Otto, and Winfred Nuwagaba and Nandala Mafabi. Amog others are Medard Lubega Seggona, Gerald Karuhanga, Gaffa Mbwatekamwa, Florence Namayanja, Theodore Sekikubo, Barnabas Tinkasimire and Angelina Osege.