President defends the use of batons to break illegal demonstrations as opposed to sticks usually used by herdsmen.
President Museveni on Sunday offered mixed reaction to increasing cases of police brutality in the country and blamed it on Dr Kizza Besigye whom he accused of “indiscipline and lawlessness.”
Answering the Daily Monitor question on the rising cases of police brutality in the country that have put his government in the spotlight, Mr Museveni, who was addressing journalists at the close of a week-long joint retreat for permanent secretaries and Cabinet ministers in Kyankwanzi, also defended the use of batons to break illegal demonstrations as opposed to the sticks usually used by herdsmen, which the policemen were seen using to beat Dr Besigye’s supporters last month.
“We don’t support police brutality but you also know that we don’t support the indiscipline of the political actors like Dr Besigye,” Mr Museveni said
“There are many Opposition leaders like Cecilia Ogwal (FDC), Norbert Mao (DP), UPC and others but I haven’t heard them being involved in these conflicts with police.The whole thing is with Besigye because of his lawlessness and indiscipline,” the President said.
Dr Besigye was busy attending FDC NEC meeting at the party headquarters, but Mr Wandera Ogalo, a senior legal counsel of FDC, disparaged Mr Museveni for linking Dr Besigye to police brutality and reminded the NRM leader that “people see Dr Besigye as their president.”
“Where is the constitutional freedom to assemble? Either the president is not properly briefed or he is just ignoring the brief on police brutality for political reasons,” Mr Ogalo said.
“The president is trying to blame the victim yet the stick-wielding goons in police who beat Ugandans like cows are known. If other political leaders and political parties don’t command much enthusiasm from the people, you cannot blame Dr Besigye. People see Dr Besigye as their president and there is no way they can seek for police permission to wave at him as he passes,” Mr Ogalo said.
Mr Museveni also complained that some people demonstrate peacefully but illegally because “many of the demonstrations are illegal”, adding that if the likes of Dr Besigye, the former presidential candidate of the FDC, wanted to demonstrate they could work with the police and demonstrate legally and peacefully but “FDC doesn’t want that, so they don’t involve the police.”
On July 12, the police were seen beating supporters of Dr Besigye, who were welcoming the FDC strongman from prison after court granted him bail but Mr Museveni said on Thursday that most of the FDCs demonstrations are illegal and that “if they are illegal and violent then, the police must do something.”
“Either you charge with a baton, which involves beating in defending yourself or the other options (rubber bullets and live bullets) which in my opinion are worse,” Mr Museveni said.
As Ugandans speak about police brutality, Mr Museveni asked them to also speak about others killed by the demonstrators, citing a policeman (John Michael Ariong) who was allegedly killed by demonstrators in March 2012.
Although Mr Museveni said “beating” is one of the accepted police methods of dealing with illegal demonstrations, he sought to distance himself from the use of long sticks, insisting that “baton charge”, is what is provided for in the police Act as one of the many peaceful ways of quelling illegal demonstrations by using “non-lethal ways without killing people.”
Explaining the use of shields and baton charge, the President said: “These are short and heavy sticks which they (police officers) can use to defend themselves because they are used even in other counties but I am told police here have used some other sticks….”
Addressing the question of beating citizens; Mr Museveni asked, “They were demonstrating but how were they demonstrating? Were they demonstrating peacefully or they were violent against the police and throwing stones? Were the police defending themselves or people were demonstrating peacefully but illegally? If they were demonstrating peacefully and then you attack them, then, you are wrong.”
Even though Mr Museveni admitted that since July 12 he has not found time to meet the Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, to find out whether the demonstration was violent or peaceful, he said, “The fact that some people were charged in court, I suspect, this was illegal but not violent, otherwise it wouldn’t have been reasonable to charge these young police people for defending themselves against an illegal and violent demonstration.”
Addressing journalists in the aftermath of the brutal events, Gen Kayihura said the Force had replaced use of tear gas with baton charge (use of sticks), and indicated that the beating of Dr Besigye’s supporters was sanctioned by the Force’s top command, claiming they had learnt about their planned violent disruptions.
Asked what his government is doing to stop the police brutality in the face a new Cabinet resolution to deal with demonstrators firmly, Mr Museveni said: “I have not heard time to study it [police brutality] because I was attending the African Union summit (when that incident happened). But I hear that police were involved in beating up people who were demonstrating.”
Since the Walk to Work protests in 2011, the the relationship between the police and civilians as well as politicians has ebbed with the Police chief now facing torture charges in relation to the beating of civilians. The 2016 disputed election which Dr Besigye claims he won made matters worse.
President Museveni, in power for 30 years, received nearly 60.75 per cent of the votes, with Dr Besigye taking 35.37 per cent. This result indicated that Dr Besigye’s support grew from 26 per cent while President Museveni declined from 68.38 per cent in 2011 polls.
Gabon court upholds President Ali Bongo’s election win
Kenyan envoy to Burundi deletes Twitter account after backlash
Green Party outraged as their electoral law reform bid trashed
Poll: Most US voters ’disgusted’ with presidential race
Congo opposition calls for new sanctions on leaders for protest deaths
|READ MORE ARTICLES ABOUT "Politics"...|