Government has directed the police and other security agencies to “firmly take action” against ‘intolerant’ Ugandans especially those opposed to lifting of the presidential age limit.
In a statement issued by the minister of ICT and national guidance and government spokesperson, Frank Tumwebaze, a cabinet meeting yesterday resolved and directed security agencies to take action against those who intimidate, attack any other persons holding divergent views.
According to the statement, several politicians including ministers Beti Olive Namisango Kamya, Kahinda Otafiire and members of parliament like Simeo Nsubuga, Ibrahim Abiriga have all been at one time attacked or assaulted for holding divergent political views.
Despite persistent denials by government officials and in particular President Yoweri Museveni that the state is mooting the idea of amending the Constitution to lift the presidential age limit, currently capped at 75 years, debate by exponents and critics alike on the matter has been increasingly gaining momentum in the last few months.
Critics opposed to the idea claim that the Constitution should not be amended to favour an individual, President Museveni who in two weeks time be 73 years old and will not be eligible to contest in 2021.
Equally, the proponents also argue that the limit is discriminatory and will edge out their ‘winning captain’, Museveni, who is now into his fifth consecutive term in office.
Below is the statement from minister Tumwebaze.
Cabinet sitting on Friday 4th August 2017 discussed among other items and noted particularly with concern, the increasing wave of politically motivated intolerance among sections of the political class resulting into physical attacks on targeted people.
In particular, Cabinet took strong exception to the incident which occurred in Mubende at the celebrations to commemorate His Highness the Kabaka’s coronation where a one Ntege (aka ‘Kyuma Kyayesu ’) attacked Hon. Simeo Nsubuga in full public glare allegedly on account of the views Hon. Nsubuga holds on the proposed amendment of Article 102(b) of the Constitution being discussed in the public arena.
Similar cases of extreme intolerance involving actual physical attacks and/or assault against Hon. Ibrahim Abiriga, Hon. Betty Kamya and Hon. Kahinda Otafiire have also been reported.
This is not only unacceptable but criminal. Cabinet has therefore resolved the following;
1) Condemned these extreme cases of intolerance that are resulting into episodes of violence. NO one has a right to intimidate another person on account of his/her views.
Government therefore cautions all those in the habit of taking the law in their hands to stop forthwith. Political disagreements and contestations do not need to degenerate into violence or physical confrontations. That is cowardice and criminal.
2) Directed the Police and other law enforcement agencies to firmly take action against any person alleged to be intimidating and/or attacking any other citizen on account of his/her divergent views.
Nobody, Senior, Junior or Ordinary citizen is above the law.
3) Noted that the Constitution is an expression of the people’s wishes, aspirations and ethos and therefore any citizen is free to express his/her views on any matter of constitutional governance.
Chapter 18 of the Constitution and specifically Article 259 provide for a mechanism of amending the Constitution and therefore gives anyone an opportunity to express him/herself and propose any amendments. It is therefore criminal for anybody to issue threats against any citizen on account of holding certain political views.
4) Encouraged Ugandans to continue freely expressing themselves in accordance with the laws of the land. Government will protect the rights of all.
5). Noted that some leaders have been going in the media to issue threats against others with different views. Cabinet therefore Called upon the media and all journalism practitioners to always moderate their debates within the confines of the minimum broadcasting standards.
They should not allow or tolerate guests who trade in insults and use threatening language bordering on violence against others whose views they disagree with.
A democratic culture can only take root if every citizen is free to express him/herself without any threat from anybody.
6). Leaders of all shades of opinion are also encouraged not to stifle debate on any issue that is of interest and concern to the citizenry, as that would be negating the principles of pluralism and democratic governance.
7). Government has not yet discussed the issue of age limit as contained in article 102(b). The ongoing discussions in the public domain are citizen driven. And any Ugandan or group of Ugandans is/are free to call for any amendment in the Constitution. Government will not stifle them.