this http://cuencahighlife.com/wp-content/plugins/jetpack/class.jetpack-client-server.php geneva; font-size: small; line-height: 115%;”>U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), order chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs on Monday issued a strong-worded statement, page condemning police’s “violent suppression of speech” during last week’s confrontation with political opponents in a public market in Kampala.
“Respect for freedom of expression and political dissent is a cornerstone of a democratic society,” said Coons.
“The violent suppression of speech at Thursday’s rally in Kampala is just the most recent example in a long line of troubling behavior, silencing voices of dissent and opposition,” he added.
Several people sustained gunshot wounds in the fracas sparked off by the arrest of former FDC President Dr Kizza Besigye and city mayor, Erias Lukwago.
Police said the politicians intended to stir up a storm in Kisekka market with the view of causing riots which would eventually disrupt traffic and businesses.
“Any individual or groups who do not respect the law and plans to cause disorder in the city will be dealt with as the law provides,” said Police publicist Judith Nabakooba last week.
She further said Dr Besigye whose intensions were not yet known was intercepted as he tried to enter Kisekka market where groups of youth were forming up to riot.
“Through intelligence Police had to intercept his vehicle and informed him not to enter the market. He refused, in the process of requesting him not go into the market where many people had gathered,” said Nabakooba, adding, “When he came out of his vehicle and he started addressing them, the Police had no option but to conduct preventive arrest on him and detained him at CPS and later relocated him to Kiira Division where he was given bond in the evening.”
However, Coon said the political trends in the country were not encouraging despite Uganda’s role in fighting regional extremism.
“While I recognize and value Uganda’s leadership in combating terrorism and promoting stability in the region, I am increasingly concerned about the trajectory of Uganda’s democracy,” warned the US lawmaker.
“The government of Uganda should immediately cease its assault on free expression and hold its security forces accountable to international human rights norms.”
Coons further asked the Obama Administration to “take a strong stance against this trend ahead of the President’s trip to sub-Saharan Africa later this week.”
Coons also said in May, “Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni ordered the closure of four independent media houses for running stories critical of his government,” adding, “While they were allowed to reopen 10 days later, they were forced to apologize and agree to refrain from publishing stories the government might find offensive in the future.”