Wednesday morning the Ugandan opposition/protest leader is due to land at Uganda’s international airport at Entebbe. The Museveni government is giving signs of that much less tolerance on the basis of Museveni’s swearing in as his rule extends for another term in its 25th year. Human Rights Watch has issued a report that is sharply critical of the government over violence against protestors, while the EU Election Observation Mission issued their Final Report on the February election on May 6 with a press release that seems more to address the current Walk to Work situation–and in a way that contrasts with the Human Rights Watch criticism–than the actual election. See quotes below.
One obvious question at this point is why the U.S. doesn’t seem to have more ability to influence the Ugandan military in a more professional direction.
At least nine unarmed Ugandans were shot dead – many of them in the back – by government security agents in the recent walk-to-work protests despite not being involved in rioting, a new report says. In a report issued yesterday, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called for a “prompt, independent, and thorough investigation” into the use of lethal force by security forces to counter the protests against the rising cost of living.
“Uganda’s security forces met the recent protests with live fire that killed peaceful demonstrators and even bystanders,” said Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. Supporting the need for an investigation, she added: “For far too long Uganda’s government has allowed a climate of impunity for serious abuses by the police and military.” Police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba said the Professional Standards Unit and the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) were investigating all the shooting incidents. “Once there reports have been compiled, the police will be in position to avail details,” she told Daily Monitor last evening. She added that the Masaka shooting suspect was still in custody. “He will be arraigned in court any time from now,” she said, but declined to comment where the force would welcome an independent investigation team from the African Union and the United Nations.
The HRW report was released a few hours before women in civil society organisations marched peacefully and uneventfully through Kampala to protest against the security agencies’ brutal response to the protests that started last month. The women’s march followed a three-day strike by lawyers against the government’s response, which they said infringed on the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.
The EU EOM drew up its Final Report independent of any European Union institution. However, it will now fall to the EU’s permanent representation in Uganda to follow up on the issues it raises.
Ambassador Ridolfi said: “The question of the legitimacy of the outcome of the election should not now be under question. Moving forward, what is important is that the government, political parties and civil society establish a peaceful and conducive dialogue inside and outside the parliament. “The European union is concerned about respect for the right to peaceful demonstration, as freedom of speech and assembly are fundamental pillars of any democracy. We call on the protesters to respect the law and conduct themselves in a peaceful manner. The police should act always in a proportionate and impartial fashion.” Dr Ridolfi added: “On this, the EU is ready to engage positively with political dialogue and development actions.”
The EU EOM was invited by the Government of Uganda and the Uganda Electoral Commission to observe the entire electoral process. Around 120 observers were deployed to the country’s 112 electoral districts.
The EU EOM operates in accordance with the “Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation” adopted by a number of international bodies involved in election
observation at the United Nations in New York in 2005.