President Yoweri Museveni has accused Ugandan opposition figures of harboring sinister intentions when they organize political demonstrations, which he said are only constitutional on the surface.
Museveni said Wednesday during the Interparty Party Organization for Dialogue (IPOD) Summit in Munyonyo, that he through the armed forces has had to curtail some the opposition organized political events because they are intended to overthrow the country’s democracy and the rule of law.
“I do not have a problem with the freedom of association,” the president said. “There is no problem with people assembling. During campaigns, all political candidates assemble.”
According to the president however, the reason why Police and the military often come in to suppress the opposition functions is because, “some of the (opposition) groups behave like they are on the verge of being terrorists.”
Museveni cited the spiraling crisis in the French Capital Paris which saw violent riots and police using brute force to deal with protesters.
The riots began weeks ago as protests against a planned fuel tax hike but quickly mushroomed into a broad demonstration of anti-government resentment aimed squarely at President Emmanuel Macron, who is seen by many as being out of touch with the working French.
“You saw what happened in France recently where there was so much damage to people’s property,” Museveni told the IPOD Summit.
“I cannot let that happen here when I am in charge. I will deal with you beforehand.”
According to the president, opposition figure’s ultimate intent is to overthrow government through their organized events which are branded as constitutional.
“If you have actors with one leg in constitutional politics one day, and another leg in unconstitutional politics… we are not fools,” he said.
“We have all this information, that someone is organizing a protest as a trigger for something else.”
“Some people say they want to organize the “Arab Spring” the way those people destroyed the Middle East by anarchy. We are not going to allow that. That is actually Treason. We have the capacity not to allow you.”
While Uganda saw significant negative publicity internationally over the brutal handling of by election crises months ago, Museveni said he was still “proud of the privilege to defend Ugandans against looting.”
The president said for opposition protests to be allowed, they must not be organized in markets to disrupt people’s business, the intentions must not be to cause trouble and that the message must not be harmful.
Museveni however admitted that in some instances, the armed forces have made mistakes, such as torturing apprehended suspects and rushing to arrest and detain people without properly investigating them.
The forces he said should be organized better on this.
“By beating people, they made a mistake,” he said. “I saw the video, and I called them and spoke to them. They had their own explanations….but they should have been more prepared.
But in spite of all this, Museveni stressed that Uganda remains overall stable, without a break down like in other neighboring countries.
The mistakes by the armed forces, he said are “curable.”