Members of Parliament have spoken out on the manner in which Police mistreated the former President of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) Party, Dr. Kizza Besigye, calling on government to stop excessive use of force in Police operations.
The Police was on Monday, 4 November 2019 captured by the media smashing Dr Besigye’s car windscreen and subduing him with water explosions, on his way to the Mandela National Stadium, Namboole for an earlier planned meeting.
The Leader of the Opposition, Betty Aol Ocan, while submitting a statement on the Besigye ordeal during the sitting of Tuesday, 5 November 2019, criticised the Police for ignoring FDC’s notification for a meeting and going ahead to brutalise party delegates.
“Three weeks ago, the MP for Kiira Municipality, Ssemujju Nganda, wrote to the Police informing them of an impending FDC meeting in Namboole on 4 November 2019, but Police never replied the notification,” said Ocan, adding that, “even communication to Assistant Inspector General of Police, Asuman Mugenyi and the Minister of Internal Affairs as early 30 October 2019 did not yield anything.”
Ocan was furious that the Police disregarded the provisions of the law and instead proceeded to spray tear gas on party delegates who she said had converged to discuss pertinent party matters.
“It was shocking to be told on Monday that our meeting cannot take place and no reason was given to the organisers but only to see images in the media of the Police using teargas to disperse delegates.”
Hon. Michael Timuzigu (NRM, Kajara County) warned that the manner in which Besigye was handled could have led to his death or left him permanently maimed.
He further warned the efforts being utilised to harness foreign revenue from tourism are in vain if the security agencies do not refrain using excess forces.
“We are trying to promote tourism so as to get foreign exchange but there is no way you are going to attract tourists when there is chaos in this country,” said Timuzigu.
Several opposition MPs testified the times they witnessed the Police dispersing gatherings unlawfully and expressed fear that their campaigns in the next elections could be frustrated.
Hon. Muwanga Kivumbi (DP, Butambala County) noted that action is needed to have the Police adhere to the Public Order Management Act, accusing the force for consistently violating the law.
“The law does not give the Police powers to prohibit gatherings, but gives it power to regulate gatherings,” he said.
The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, demanded commitment from government on political parties’ participation in the next general elections.
“This country wants to know if we are practicing a multi-party system. We have about 38 parties, five of them are in Parliament, parties are funded by government and the time table from the Electoral Commission is out. We need to know are parties allowed to meet?” asked Kadaga.
At the end of the debate on the matter, the House summoned the Minister for Internal Affairs Gen Jeje Odongo, to explain the justification for Police’s conduct in Besigye’s arrest.