TO DRAG GOVERNMENT TO COURT: Arthur Larok, ActionAid’s country director for Uganda

The Bank of Uganda has frozen bank accounts of ActionAid Uganda, a prominent non-government organisation on allegations that its officials are involved in money laundering.

The Bank of Uganda confirmed the closure through a statement signed by the Deputy Governor Louis Kasekende.

However, Arthur Larok, ActionAid’s country director for Uganda, says the closure is politically motivated; a punishment for opposing the plan to have Article 102 (b) removed from the Constitution to allow anyone above 75 years to run for Uganda’s presidency.

“There are allegations that we are conspiring to commit a felony and that we are involved in money laundering,” said Arthur Larok, ActionAid’s country director for Uganda.

According to Larok, security agencies have grilled him multiple times over ActionAid’s activities ever since the organisation gave opposing views on the proposed removal of age limit from the Constitution. “From all the interviews I have done with the police, that is an area they stressed,” he said, referring to the planned scrapping of the age cap.

After freezing the accounts, Larok said Standard Chartered Bank told them it was acting on orders from the central bank.

The StanChart brand and marketing, manager Cynthia Mpanga, when asked about the development, confirmed the ActionAid accounts had been blocked for reasons ‘Bank of Uganda can better explain’.

Some time back police raided the ActionAid offices, disorganizing work there. The force, which many people accuse for being partisan in favour of the NRM regime, also raided the offices of the Greal Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies (GLISS) recently.

GLISS boss Godber Tumushabe, is a government critic and strongly opposed to the removal of presidential age limit from the constitution. The bill now awaits approval of the legal committee of parliament for debate, as MPs go back to villages to consult with the electorate on the same issue.

Authorities have cracked down on the media, charities, rights activists and political opposition who have resisted the bid to amend the constitution to remove an age cap. News Editors of the Daily Monitor and Red Pepper have been summoned by police CID office over stories related to Age Limit. They are expected to appear there on Monday.

Yesterday NRM MPs met president Yoweri Museveni in Kampala and according to the Government Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa, the president has rallied behind his Cabinet’s decision to have the age limit cap removed from the constitution. Opposition MPs say the move could benefit Museveni who is serving his last term office.

Museveni, 73 and in power since 1986, is inelligible to stand at the next polls in 2021, if we are to go with the current constitution.

Meanwhile, Uganda’ elders met in their forum yesterday in Kampala and have urged for the respect of the constitution, particularly saying Article 102 (b) should be left untouched. They included former Prime Minister Prof. Apollo Nsibambi, for Chief Justice Wako Wambuzi and former Principal Judge James Ogoola. Others included former minister Matthew Rukakaire.

Prof. Nsibambi while briefing the press said he expected Museveni to stand by what he said some time back that he would seek for re-election as president of Uganda when the current term ends.

The Elders Forum of Uganda (TEFU) was officially launched by Museveni in 2015 much as it was founded in 2010.

The Forum which comprises of 13 eminent Uganda elders was founded to provide an impartial space for dialogue particularly during electoral seasons. It is envisioned as a non-state platform providing a neutral space for citizens and political actors to exchange ideas and build consensus on issues of national importance.