The Opposition says that the Army should not be allowed any role in the electoral processes over and above those listed under Article 208 and 209 of the Constitution and the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces Act, 2005.
Opposition in Parliament has recommended the amendment of the Electoral
Commission Act to redefine the role of police and other armed personnel during
This is one of the amendments carried in a statement presented before Parliament
on Wednesday by the Leader of Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga on the shrinking civic
space in Uganda.
In the statement, the Opposition says that it is incumbent upon Parliament to
inquire into the operations of Civil Society Organizations-CSOs particularly
Political Parties, Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Media and
Journalists, Cultural and Religious institutions.
“The role of conducting elections should be the reserve of the Electoral
Commission. The Electoral Commission, (not the inspector General of Police or
the President, or any other person), should be solely in charge of and in
direct command and control of the co-opted police and other internal security
personnel deployed in electoral processes,” reads part of the recommendation.
The Opposition says that the Army should not be allowed any role in the
electoral processes over and above those listed under Article 208 and 209 of
the Constitution and the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces Act, 2005. They say that
this would go an extra mile in ensuring that the operations of police during
elections are not politically motivated as noticed over time.
The Shadow Minister for Defence, Abdallah Kiwanuka presented the statement on
behalf of Mpuuga during the plenary session chaired by Speaker of Parliament
Kiwanuka noted that it would also be prudent to increase funding of the National
Consultative Forum to empower it to fast-track its statutory mandate
under the Political Parties and Organizations Act. He says that the enhanced
funding would improve the operations of the Forum to build the capacities of
all political parties in Uganda and propagate dialogue at the national level
with the intent of wiping out political persecution and strengthening
Speaking about political parties, Kiwanuka said that the State has been highly
repressive towards the organized effort of dissent.
He told parliament that opposition political parties are not accorded a
conducive environment within which to operate as per the dictates of a free and
democratic leadership enshrined under Article 29 (1) (e) of the Constitution.
“Security forces deter them from popularizing their parties while on the other
hand facilitating popularization of the ruling party. For instance, the
National Resistance Movement (NRM) has not been deterred from undertaking
mobilization tours in Buganda Region while the National Unity Platform (NUP)
has been blocked from holding radio talk shows and party activities in Mbale
and Lira districts,” said Kiwanuka.
Opposition accused the Police and the Army of highhandedness under the guise of
regulating public order, reigning in on political activities, and preventing
the opposition from organizing and conducting their activities in an orderly
and democratic environment, hence offending their civic spaces.
Kiwanuka says that security organs have selectively and conveniently used the
Public Order Management Act (POMA) to blatantly stifle political dissent.
He wondered why Section 8 of the Act that gives powers to the Inspector General
of Police –IGP to unilaterally stop gatherings or protests still applies
despite the Constitutional Court annulling Section 8 of the POMA.
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the Opposition recommended that the Non-Governmental Organizations Act, 2016 be
amended and dispensed with unnecessary and restrictive registration and
The Opposition also wants a committee of Parliament to investigate the operation
of the National Bureau for NGOs and the recent suspension of 54 NGOs.
In the Statement, Kiwanuka told Parliament that NGOs and the civic space of Community-Based
Organizations (CBOs) has over the years shrunk due to the historical mistrust
of the State on organized groupings of people advocating for civil and
fundamental rights and freedoms.
He notes that NGOs and CBOs have continually faced the repressiveness of the
State through orchestrated break-ins, closure, and suspension of bank accounts
especially for those perceived critical of the government.
“For instance, in 2017, the offices and accounts of Action Aid and Great Lakes Institute
for Strategic Studies (GLISS) were closed. The legal regime and regulatory
framework are also so cumbersome and extremely taxing. It is exceptionally hard
to register a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) and even much harder for an
NGO to get accredited periodically,” he added.
The Opposition also told parliament that the NGO Bureau is overreaching in the execution
of its mandate citing the August 2021 suspension of 54 NGOs on the assertion of
expired permits, failure to file annual returns, or failure to register with
authorities. Kiwanuka told parliament that most of the NGOs that were suspended
were monitoring election results and advocates of the protection of human
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The Opposition also says that the media and journalists have not been spared
citing that throughout the entire campaigns in the recently concluded general
elections, Police and the Army specifically targeted journalists that covered
the campaign programs of the opposition candidates.
They note that the highhandedness of security personnel has resulted in
intimidation, coercion, limitation of free speech and expression, curtailed
transmission of information, and gravely hurt democratic principles and growth
of the country.
The Opposition demanded that the Minister responsible for Information,
Communication, Technology, and National Guidance should report to Parliament on
why the Uganda Communications Tribunal has not been established as required
under the Uganda Communications Commission Act.
The opposition also wants the Minister for Internal Affairs to brief the House
on measures undertaken to apprehend perpetrators of violence meted out on
Journalists during the recently concluded General Elections.
Meanwhile, Mpuuga also wants the government to develop a donation policy that
elaborates the criteria of who deserves a donation, the purpose, form, and
value of the donation. He says that this would ensure certainty and consistency
in the handling of government donations.
He notes the extension of gifts to religious leaders in form of cars and cash
saying that the head of State has long employed tokenism seemingly to buy their
support and it presents a risk of undermining the duty and objectivity of some
religious leaders. Mpuuga says that this consequently, compromises the use of
their platforms in holding the government accountable.
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Oulanyah said that the statement has fresh matters and needs much more
time for debate.