Former presidential candidate Kizza Besigye has implored the European Union (EU) to investigate the post 2016 election violence especially in the “traditional strongholds of the Opposition” such as Kasese District.
Dr Besigye made the request in Brussels on Wednesday during a closed-door meeting with Mr Koen Vervaeke, the European External Action Service (EEAS) managing director for Africa.
“I briefed Mr Vervaeke about the post-election situation in Uganda, including the Kasese violence, and our continued demand for an internationally-supervised audit of the 2016 election,” he said.
The EU, alongside other international regional bodies, observed the 2016 polls and concluded that the Electoral Commission lacked independence and transparency and fell short of international standards.
Dr Besigye, in his fourth unsuccessful shot at the presidency, stood on the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party ticket.
Mr Dickson Wasajja, the FDC UK Chapter chairperson and the party’s envoy to the European Union who attended the meeting, said: “current political and economic crisis in Uganda and matters of mutual interest between Uganda, the Great Lakes Region and the European Union dominated the talks”.
Dr Besigye, during the meeting accused President Museveni and government of intentionally targeting the leadership and subjects of the Rwenzururu kingdom, according to Mr Wasajja.
A combined army and police force bombed out the kingdom headquarters and arrested King Charles Wesley Mumbere now facing trial for multiple crimes, including treason and murder.
In their latest report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused security forces in the country of carrying out at least 13 extra-judicial killings of people in the Rwenzori region shortly after the February 18, 2016 general elections.
The New York-based rights group said it documented cases where the army and police allegedly executed unarmed civilians following violence in the region between February and April, 2016. 30 people reportedly died at the time.
The 687-page report, however, did not include the November, 2016 violence in Kasese that left more than 100 people dead after the army and police raided Rwenzururu Kingdom palace outside Kasese Town. Government denied the HRW allegations, saying the people killed were armed combatants who attacked police stations, other security installations, and police and army personnel.
The EU, according to Mr Wasajja, promised to work with all groups and individuals that are calling for a thorough investigation into the Kasese massacre.
Mr Vervaeke had earlier on February 21, tweeted a photo of him and Dr Besigye saying he had discussed with the former presidential candidate “national dialogue and political reforms in Uganda”.
On Monday Daily Monitor broke the story that President Museveni and Dr Besigye had agreed on a foreign mediator and broad agenda for expected talks to resolves Uganda’s intractable political problems.
Information minister Frank Tumwebaze later denied any dialogue is in the works and FDC said its preconditions for talks had not been met.
These include a mutually agreed foreign mediator, agenda for the dialogue, implementation mechanism for decisions reached, and treatment of parties to the talks as equals.
FDC has also insisted on an independent audit of the 2016 presidential election results.
“Yes, we discussed having dialogue with Mr Museveni and our position was made clear that any dialogue cannot be a Besigye-Museveni affair, but national, with an agreed agenda, respected facilitator and international guarantors,” Mr Wasajja said.
The EU is reported to have expressed readiness to assist with the facilitation of any such dialogue, if asked.
“Talks have got to be meaningful and aimed at solving Uganda’s mountain of problems,” he said.
- Dr Kizza Besigye is welcomed by Mr Koen Vervaeke - Managing Director for Africa at the European Union External Action Service in Brussels, Belgium. The two officials discussed current political and economic issues in Uganda and matters of mutual interest between Uganda, the Great Lakes Region and the European Union.