Uganda police denies bias against presidential contenders, clears Besigye to campaign

JUST DOING OUR JOB: Uganda Police Spokesman, Fred Enanga

JUST DOING OUR JOB: Uganda Police Spokesman, Fred Enanga

The Uganda Police has come out to categorically refute claims from the media, presidential contenders and opposition politicians that the force exercised partisanship in recent arrests of former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and Kiiza Besigye, both 2016 presidential aspirants.

In a statement release Monday evening, the Uganda Police Spokesman Fred Enanga said in arresting the two contenders and stopping them from campaigning, the police was enforcing the law as both candidates had not followed their respective political organisation’s rules and regulations.

“Enforcing the law as it is should not be interpreted as being partisan. In the case of Hon. Amama Mbabazi it is clear that he is seeking the presidency under the umbrella of the NRM party,” Enanga said adding “the party has come out to state that Hon. Amama Mbabazi has a right to contest but should contest within the laws and regulations of his party as well as follow the road map that his party’s Electoral Commission has put up”

STILL IN LEGAL LIMBO: Amama Mbabazi, former Premier and 2016 presidential candidates

STILL IN LEGAL LIMBO: Amama Mbabazi, former Premier and 2016 presidential candidates

The police last week arrested, detained and later released Mbabazi and Besigye without charging them of any crime alleging the move was “preventive” in nature because it averted what would have been a chaotic situation and confrontation between the candidates and their supporters, and the police.

Enanga adds in the statement that, for Besigye, his meetings with voters were in contravention with party rules and it’s a member within his party (FDC) that notified the police of the matter.

He stressed “the meetings (Besigye’s) did not comply with the provisions of S.5 of the Public Order Management Act and so could not be allowed to proceed, but more critical is the fact that the purpose of the meetings was not clear. It was an individual member of FDC who gave notice to the Police in respect of one candidate.”

Enanga however, says Besigye and his party have since sorted their issues and that the three time presidential contender is now free to conduct his campaigns effective Tuesday July 14.

Afrika Reporter was not able to confirm the police’s revelations with Besigye’s camp by press time.

From the statement the police spokesman indicates Mbabazi, who is running under the governing party National Resistance Movement (NRM) is still not authorized to hold his “consultative meetings voters as he is yet to be cleared with his party.

Mbabazi suspended his meetings last Friday to attend his late brother’s burial, and had indicated the new schedule for his meeting would be announced this Monday (today).

Amama Mbabazi is a longtime confidant to Uganda’s President and ruling party chairman Yoweri Museveni, but the duo has since fallen out over the former’s presidential ambitions.

Mbabazi last month declared he will be challenging Museveni, who has been in power for 29 years, for the party 2016 presidential nomination.

His members have been targeted and arrested by law enforcement around the country, and his #GoForward campaign posters vandalized.

In reaction to his arrest, NRM lawmakers in parliament have applauded the move saying the former Prime Minister “reaped what he sowed”, referring to his influential role in lobbying for the passage of the Public Order Management Act (POMA).

The act gave the police sweeping powers to maintain law and order.