Nationwide protests, a test of Government’s commitment to civil and political rights.
Tens of thousands of Ugandans, from all walks of life, will be gathering in cities and towns across the country this Today in peaceful protest against the government’s persistent violation of their basic civil and political rights.
Organised by the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) to oppose the planned inauguration of Mr. Yoweri Museveni after fraudulent elections, the protests have taken on new urgency after many Ugandans were arrested or otherwise prevented from gathering to pray for a peaceful resolution to the political crisis gripping the country. The government’s move to prevent its citizens from gathering to pray is extraordinary and unprecedented.
Uganda held presidential and parliamentary elections on 18th February, 2016 that EU observers found to be “eclipsed by an atmosphere of intimidation”. Despite widespread evidence of fraud and mounting international criticism, the government has resisted calls by Rt. Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye to resolve the disputed vote through an independent audit of the electoral process.
Earlier this week, that resistance turned into outright panic when police enforced a cadre Judge’s outrageous judgement banning protesters from meeting to pray for a peaceful resolution to the ongoing dispute. The Lord Mayor of Kampala, Erias Lukwago, several religious leaders and ordinary citizens were arrested for no offence other than seeking to exercise their fundamental religious rights.
Mr. Museveni’s regime has thus escalated the conflict from one of electoral rights to basic freedom of religion. This is likely to backfire: Ugandans are a deeply religious people. The FDC and its pro-democratic allies will stay the course, peacefully insisting upon their constitutional rights to determine their own future and that of their country.
We can only hope that the regime will take this opportunity to pull back and seek a peaceful resolution to a conflict of its own creation. One way or another, Ugandans, and only Ugandans, will determine who leads their country. We pray that today, Mr. Museveni and his associates choose a path of peace and respect for the people they purport to govern.