1995 Constitution states in Article 29 (1):
“(1) Every person shall have the right to—
d) freedom to assemble and to demonstrate together with others peacefully and unarmed and to petition; and
(e) freedom of association which shall include the freedom to form and join associations or unions, including trade unions and political and other civic organisations” (Constitution, 1995).
You could think we are retuning back in time, but however… we are in 2022 and not in 2015 or 2016. Neither are we in the 2010 or 2011. The Public Order Management Act (POMA) is still enforced in combination with the Standard Operational Procedures (SOPs) in consideration with the global coronavirus pandemic. Therefore, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) and Uganda Police Force (UPF) is directly warning Besigye in end of January 2022… is like a deja vu.
As reported earlier today:
“Addressing journalists on Monday, Police spokesperson, Fred Enanga said security has got intelligence information indicating that in order to pull off the planned protests, Dr.Besigye is planning to reawaken the Power 10, a structure formed towards the 2016 polls as FDC’s election mobilisation task force. “We have intelligence information that Dr. Besigye and other opposition activists intend to reactivate Power 10 to cause acts of disobedience and mayhem in the city. They have so far recruited five persons per village and cell but we know Dr. Besigye as a professional agitator for violence and warn him that the Public Order Management Act is still in place and they have to ask for permission from police before carrying out their activities,” Enanga said” (Kenneth Kazibwe – ‘Dont be tempted to organise protests- Police warn Besigye’ 31.01.2022, Nile Post).
We know that this time around that Dr. Kizza Besigye has his own pressure group and coalition, which is the People’s Front for Transition (PFT) and the Red Card Movement. It is clear that the state still fears for his reach and popularity. As they are warning him to not demonstrate or riot. Which is blocking the rights of any citizen and it’s stipulated in the 1995 Constitution in Article 29.
It is not new that the Anti-Besigye Act or the POMA act has been made to stifle and stop demonstrations, after the near successful Walk to Work demonstrations in 2011. The POMA is made in such a fashion, that anyone has to apply and fill certain criteria to be able to demonstrate or protest. Therefore, we know if Besigye or any allies applies to do so. It will be denied or not get allowed to do so, in regard to public safety. While the state can gather and show-up everywhere with the convoys, meetings and conferences for that matter.
The PFT and Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) will not be able to show a public disdain. That is deliberate by the state and we know it. This have been done for years and is nothing new. However, the state and the NRM would be more sincere, if they just amended the Article 29 and took away the right to demonstrate. As it is near to impossible… and the ones who wishes to do so cannot really do it.
Besigye is only one who would get this warning. This could be equally be given to Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine and his National Unity Platform (NUP) or the People Power Movement. As they would get under the same scrutiny or pressure from the state to cease these sorts of activities. Since, the state wouldn’t allow that to happen. Just like they haven’t allowed concerts or plenty of gatherings by the NUP in the recent years.
Therefore, Besigye is just having … the same problems as before… the FDC and PFT should anticipate this and it’s nothing new. The UPF and the NRM is just continuing their oppression and lack of tolerance towards dissidents. Peace.