Opposition leader Kizza Besigye says yesterday was only the beginning, the first day of demonstrations in demand of an Independent Audit of the 2016 presidential elections.
“On this day, matches were planned from FDC offices to assembly areas,” he said in a statement.
Besigye said as expected, heavy military and police deployments were made in all towns; several leaders homes were barricaded; and many roadblocks were erected.
“This is all anticipated and good for the defiance campaign! The dictator’s forces are worn out, even before citizens take any action!”
What was rather surprising, he notes, but quite in keeping with the panic and desperation of the NRM Junta now, was the statement made by Gen Jim Muhwezi, the Minister of Information.
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kayihura, Attorney General Fred Ruhindi and his deputy, Director of Uganda Communications Commission, and, ominously, the heads of major media houses, notably Nbs, NTV, and Vision group, accompanied Gen Muhwezi.
In his statement, Gen Muhwezi said: “All live broadcast of defiance activities should stop. Any media house that continues to cover them risks having their license revoked”.
He went on to threaten the media generally about any coverage of what he termed “defiance activities”.
Deputy AG Mwesigwa Rukutana told the press that Uganda, as a sovereign nation, doesn’t have to abide by international covenants regarding press freedom and other Human Rights.
“The disgraceful actions of the NRM Junta, to further curtail press freedom in Uganda, should be strongly resisted,” Besigye pointed out.
He urged Uganda media practitioners not to “take this lying down. International media freedom defenders should also take appropriate action”.
Besigye says another action in keeping with the panic mode was the flying of fighter jets over the Kampala city and surrounding areas. The Military spokesman said they were on “routine test flights”.
“From Mukono and parts of Kampala and Wakiso, there are reports of a presence of soldiers that speak languages unknown in Uganda,” Besigye pointed out.
When the army was recently deployed in Kampala, critics claimed that Museveni was using the defeated March 23 Movement [M23] rebels to harass Ugandans.
There was no evidence to substantiate the claims.
“This raises worry that foreigners may be involved in the massive deployments,” Besigye said yesterday.
He argued that this trend would not be surprising considering that in the 2016 election, members of the armed forces are known to have voted overwhelmingly for change.
“That may have put the loyalty of most UPDF and UPF soldiers to the NRM regime is in question.”
He said in spite of the heavy media and physical intimidation, Ugandans came defiantly came out and demonstrated in many parts of the country.
Main action areas included Lira, in Northern Uganda; Mbale, Busia, and Kamuli in Eastern Uganda; Rukungiri, Bushenyi and Mbarara in Western Uganda; Wakiso and Kampala in Central Uganda.
“Many people were arrested and are being held in various police stations. Some of the people arrested were actually not involved in the demo. Our leaders are trying to gain access to all those arrested.”
Besigye congratulated the “courageous citizens” that have defiantly demonstrated today.
“Many people were waiting for me to get arrested! As I’ve pointed out before, this is not about FDC or me.”
He said the demonstration is about citizens having their votes count; regaining control over their country; regaining control over state institutions; and regaining control over national resources.
“Citizens want a country that works for them: ensures their dignity by having decent jobs; ensures good health care, quality education, modern infrastructure; a corruption-free environment etc.”
He added: “That’s why the demonstration, including the prayers, will continue until the people’s will is respected. We shall overcome!”