Legislators have emphasised the need for the Uganda Police Force to ensure that security prevails during the 2021 general elections.
The MPs said that recent arrests of opposition politicians are a cause for worry for many Ugandans, adding that police should ensure such incidences do not occur during the elections.
The lawmakers raised their concerns in reference to the recent arrest of Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi (Ind. Kyadondo East) who was incarcerated for alleged violation of the Electoral Commission guidelines on campaigns.
While meeting the Minister of State for Internal Affairs, Hon. Obiga Kania on 15 Wednesday 2020, legislators on the committee of Defence and Internal Affairs accused police of acting against the law while carrying out the arrests.
Hon. Muwanga Kivumbi (DP, Butambala County) said that police is deliberately stifling activities of the opposition by issuing new directives which are not in the Public Order Management Act.
“Police now requires organisers of rallies to have firefighters, sniffer dogs and an ambulance. These kinds of conditions are currently being meted on Hon. Kyagulanyi but eventually they will affect many,” he said.
Kilak South County Hon. Gilbert Olanya criticised police for issuing directives that bar persons from holding gathering in their homes.
“Under which law was this order issued? The country is preparing to start campaigns for the general elections and yet police has issued stringent directives,” Olanya said.
Hon. Lucy Achiro (Ind. Aruu North County) said that mishandling of suspects by police is a recipe for insecurity in the country.
“We shall be compelled to delete teargas and rubber bullets from the police budget because they it is being misused. You need to improve on the manner in which you handle suspects,” Achiro said.
Hon. James Waluswaka (NRM, Bunyole West ) advised that opposition politicians should be allowed to carry out their activities, as long as they are acting within the law.
“If fairness is exercised while handling all political leaders, especially the opposition, peace and security will prevail. I am not happy with the manner in which Hon. Kyagulanyi is being handled,” he said.
Minister Obiga Kania said that there are situations that require politicians to consult with police before they hold their rallies.
“I am happy to say that right now from the words of Hon. Kyagulanyi, his team is now drafting a new proposal for their consultations and he will be allowed ,” said Obiga Kania.
He clarified that Police has not stopped people from holding gatherings in their homes, but only gets involved in cases where a person is using their home for subversive purposes.
“You might be using your premises as send off point for demonstrations. But if it is an activity which is not harmful to the public, the police have no authority to disperse private peaceful meetings,” Obiga Kania added.
The Inspector General of Police, Okoth Ochola advised politicians to conduct their activities within the law and consult if they are to avoid being inconvenienced.
“We have no personal issues with anyone. The Electoral Commission gave Hon. Kyagulanyi clear guidelines but he acted to the contrary. There is no way we shall allow anarchy to prevail,” he said.
He called on politicians to emulate the leader of the Alliance for National Transformation party, Gen Mugisha Muntu, saying that his party’s activities have been conducted successfully.