Police Statement on Besigye (24.02.2016)
This Police statement is to make clarifications, and inform the general public about the circumstances surrounding the continuing regulation, and close monitoring of the movements and activities of Rtd Col. Dr. Kiiza Besigye, by the Police, since Monday, 15th February 2016 todate.
This is because there is continued campaign of distorted information, speculations, biased, and unfounded, as well as unfair criticism of Police actions, as well as outright lies regarding the handling of Rtd Col Dr Kizza Besigye by the Uganda Police.
First of all, we wish to state, at the very beginning that the responsibility for the actions that Police has taken involving Rtd Col Dr Kizza Besigye during, and after the campaigns lies squarely on his shoulders and that of his unruly and indisciplined supporters. Indeed, contrary to propaganda in the media, in all our actions, Police have acted lawfully, professionally, conducted ourselves with utmost restraint in the face of incredible provocation.
A case in point is the violent assault by two foreign journalists on the DPC, Kasangati, who, in spite of the attacks, kept cool, and a calm demeanor, and by his conduct actually disproved the unacceptable insults they were hurling at him. We are reviewing the video footage of that incident, after which appropriate action will be taken.
Let us begin with the incidents of Monday, 15th February2016, in the City, when, in the morning, at Punjani roundabout, Rtd Col Dr. Kiiza Besigye, then a Presidential candidate with a rowdy group of supporters, attempted to force his way, into the City centre, in an illegal procession, moreover on a busy business day with very heavy traffic. Since he had no scheduled programme in the City centre, traffic police redirected him and the crowd to use alternative routes to Makerere University where he had a scheduled campaign rally. He refused the guidance of the officers, and, instead, together with the rowdy crowd, (who we, later, got to learn were the infamous Power 10 (P 10) group), illegally occupied the Punjani junction, and blocked the heavy traffic on Jinja-Kampala road.
The rowdy group pelted police officers, and members of the general public with stones forcing the Police to disperse them, and, after, engaging Rtd Col Dr Kizza Besigye, in vain, including offering to escort him to Makerere university, the Police escorted him to his home. Later in the day, he returned to the City from Kasangati, gathering rowdy crowds along the way, especially the youth, who must have been the P10 group, occupied Wandegeya traffic lights junction, after failing to force their way into the City centre claiming that they were headed for Nasser road!!
The Police had cleared the passage to Makerere University under the mistaken belief that Rtd Col Dr Kizza Besigye was headed for a rally. After the Police dispersed the rowdy crowd, allowing traffic to flow, and business life to continue, Rtd Col Dr Kizza Besigye was escorted back to his home in Kasangati by the Police.
Secondly, so as to prevent further confrontation with Rtd Col Dr Kizza Besigye, who was scheduled to campaign in Nakawa Division, the Police, on the night of 15th February 2016, met and agreed with the organizers on a detailed programme of his campaign in the Division. However, even then, although, generally, the movements of Rtd Col Dr Kizza Besigye through Nakawa division, the next day, Tuesday, 16th February 2016, was peaceful and smooth, in the evening hooligans who were part of his convoy attacked NRM supporters, who were returning to their homes from the NRM rally at Kololo, tore their party t-shirts, stole their properties, and stoned vehicles in Kinawata and in the Bugolobi area. Police arrested over 50 thugs.
Thirdly, again, on Thursday, 18th February2016, Rtd Col Dr. Kiiza Besigye and a group of his supporters stormed and trespassed on security premises in Naguru, and under the supervision of Rtd Col Dr. Kiiza Besigye, a senior Police Officer was assaulted and tortured by mob action. Rtd Col Dr. Kiiza Besigye demanded to enter and search the security premises together with the violent people he had gone with. He, falsely, alleged that it was a place where “rigging” was taking place.
Obviously, this was a pretext, as he clearly knew where and how voting, counting, and tallying had taken place or was taking place, transparently, in the open, and in the presence of agents of all candidates under the management and supervision of the Electoral Commission. The false claims by Rtd Col Dr. Kiiza Besigye were clearly meant to discredit the electoral process, cause confusion, and incite and enrage the public into violence. After that incident, Rtd Col Dr. Kiiza Besigye was escorted by the Police to his house in Kasangati.
Fourthly, on Friday, 19th February 2016, we received information that Rtd Col Dr. Kiiza Besigye and other leaders of FDC intended to declare and announce results of the Presidential elections. Obviously, since this was in violation of the Constitution and the law, and would cause confusion, the Police quickly acted and prevented it from happening. It should be noted that, under Section 57 of the Presidential Election Act, it is only the Electoral Commission that has the mandate to declare results.
Section 83 of the Presidential Election Act prohibits interference with any duty under the Act (including declaring results). Indeed, to confirm our information, we found Rtd Col Dr Kizza Besigye and other leaders at the FDC Headquarters at Najjanankumbi, with journalists, preparing a Press Conference.
Morever, through social media platforms and sms messages, the FDC had made their intentions known publicly. The Police officers I sent attempted to engage with the FDC leadership in vain. They were defiant. Their supporters attempted to block Entebbe highway prompting the Police to intervene and restore public order. Rtd Col Dr. Kiiza Besigye and other FDC leaders were then arrested, briefly held, and later released.
Rtd Col Kizza Besigye was, then escorted back to his home in Kasangati.
Fifthly, on Saturday, 20th February, 2016, the Electoral Commission pursuant to its constitutional and lawful mandate, declared the results of the Presidential election, and the winner of the elections. Rtd Col Dr. Kiiza Besigye’s agents absented themselves and therefore did not collect their copy of the results. Subsequently, on 21st February, 2016 Rtd Col Dr. Kiiza Besigye released two statements and addressed the press at his Kasangati home.
The first statement was to the youths, inciting them and calling on them to “take over their country”. The second statement was an announcement calling all his supporters to accompany him to offices of the Electoral Commission along Jinja road, ostensibly to pick his copy of the results and to “claim their future back”. This procession was to occur on Monday, 22th February 2016. It is now, common knowledge that any procession, like any public meeting, must be carried out in accordance with the Constitution and the law, in particular the Public Order Management Act (POMA).
He had not bothered to notify the Police as required by the law. Moreover, it should be noted that on that day, schools were beginning and parents would be taking children to school, meaning there would be more traffic in the City. The Police released a public statement calling on Rtd Col Dr. Kiiza Besigye to respect the law as well as the rights of parents and their school going children, as well as the business community, and not go ahead with his planned unlawful procession that had the potential for violence, given our earlier experiences with rowdy youth accompanying his convoy.
Nevertheless, on 22rd February 2016, Rtd Col Dr. Kiiza Besigye attempted to leave his home and lead that procession prompting the Police to hold him under preventive arrest. Again, yesterday, Tuesday, 23rd February 2016, he attempted to go ahead with his plans, but Police stopped him.
Clearly, therefore, the Police actions regarding Rtd Col Dr Kizza Besigye are justifiable both in law and in fact. We have a duty to protect the people and their property, and ensure there is law and order in this country. Moreover, the Constitution is clear that individual rights and freedoms are not absolute. Article 43 states that in enjoyment of freedoms and rights, no one should prejudice the rights and freedoms of others and public interest, (in this case, public order).
Accordingly, therefore, the regulation, and close monitoring of the movements and actions of Rtd Col Dr Kizza Besigye is within the constitutional and legal mandate of the Uganda Police, and is a consequence of his utterances and activities that amount to incitement to violence and defiance of the law.
But even then, and contrary to propaganda in the media, we wish to make the following clarifications:
- Rtd Col Kizza Besigye is not under house arrest. He is allowed unlimited access to his lawyers, family and party officials, among others, and is not in any way hindered from preparing to legally challenge the results of the Presidential Elections if he so chooses to do so.
- FDC offices have not been closed, and their activities relating to elections are ongoing. Police has not, as is claimed in the media, confiscated FDC declaration forms or done anything to interfere with the legitimate activities of FDC.
In conclusion, since Rtd Col Kizza Besigye has not retracted his statements of defiance and incitement to violence, Police shall continue to regulate and closely monitor his movements so that he does not pose danger to public peace and national security. Moreover, we have information that his planned procession is not just a procession, but rather beginning of a planned and generalized campaign of violence in the City and select municipalities across the country.
Clearly, this is supported by the public utterances of Rtd Col Dr. Kiiza Besigye. As much as possible, we shall continue to constructively engage him and other FDC leaders urging them to cooperate with us to ensure that peace, law and order are maintained in our country, and advise them to seek legal redress rather than resorting to violence in addressing whatever grievances they may have.
General Kale Kayihura
Inspector General of Police
24 February, 2016