Ugandans living in London on Wednesday walked to Downing Street and delivered a petition to the UK Prime Minister, David Cameroon.
This followed a protest against February’s “fraudulent” Ugandan presidential elections and the “violent repression” by the Museveni regime.
The protest was supported by the African LGBTI Out and Proud Diamond Group, Forum for Democratic Change (UK), P10 (UK) and the Peter Tatchell Foundation.
Edwin Sesange, Director of Out and Proud, said: “On 18 February, Ugandans held Presidential elections. There is strong evidence that these elections were not free and fair, but manipulated to return to power the incumbent anti-democratic leader, President Yoweri Museveni. The provisional results that were cited to declare Museveni as the winner do not match the results that were read out at many polling centres immediately after the election.”
“These elections have been strongly criticised by the United Nations, European Union observers, the head of the Commonwealth observer’s team, President Obasanjo, Ugandan Church leaders, the United States and Botswana governments, local election observers and ngos, as well as by Ugandan opposition candidates,” he said.
Prince Dickson Wasajja, Secretary for Mobilisation and Publicity of the Forum for Democratic Change (UK) and Chair of P10 (UK), outlined the key demands of the protest, which echo similar demands being made by protesters inside Uganda:
“We call upon the UK Prime Minister and the international community to not recognise Museveni as the legitimate President of Uganda and to expedite a forensic independent audit of the election results by international experts – including an investigation into the conduct of the head of the Uganda electoral commission, Badru Kiggundu.
“We urge the immediate and unconditional release of the opposition leader, Dr Kizza Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change, and other political prisoners – plus the freezing of assets and the instigation of travel bans of key regime officials who are implicated in the fraudulent poll, including Yoweri Museveni, Kasule Lumumba, General Kale Kayihura, General Katumba Wamala and Felix Kaweesa among others.
“The elections were characterised by the jailing, torture, murder and disappearance of opposition supporters, widespread voter intimidation and harassment, delays in the delivery of voting material to opposition strongholds, manipulation of the poll results, lack of transparency and accountability by election officials, social media blockage, state surveillance, outright vote rigging.
“These tactics used by Museveni ,who has been in power since 1986, are similar to the tactics used by the rogue regimes that were first to congratulate him, such as President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, President Vladimir Putin of Russia, Kim Jong-un of North Korea and Paul Kagame of Rwanda,” said Mr Wasajja.
Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, added:
“Museveni is the new Mugabe – a democrat turned tyrant who has clung on to power for 30 years using terror and fraud to sustain his misrule. Uganda is a member of the Commonwealth yet its government is systematically violating Commonwealth principles by rigging elections, shutting down social media, arresting opposition leaders and supporters, and beating peaceful protesters and journalists.”
“We stand in solidarity with the people of Uganda who defend democracy, human rights and social justice,” he added.
Before and throughout the 2016 election campaign, live rounds, tear gas, water cannon, tanks and commandos were deployed against unarmed opposition supporters and sympathisers, the protesters explain.
Many opposition polling agents, volunteers, supporters and leaders were rounded up by agents of the current regime and thrown into detention centres and torture chambers euphemistically known as ‘safe houses’.
“Others have disappeared. Some have been murdered by agents of the state or thrown into prisons, with no access to their families and legal representatives. A majority of Ugandans are now living in fear for their lives due to their political opinions.”
Protesters also say the regime of President Museveni has thwarted all efforts by Dr Kizza Besigye and his team to gather evidence in order to petition the Supreme Court with regard to illegality of the election results.
“Many opposition polling agents have been incarcerated on trumped up charges by the government.”
As of today, the leading opposition candidate for president, Dr. Kizza Besigye, is under house arrest but with no formal charges brought against him.
He has been arrested many times during and after the elections, and been subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment – including being pepper sprayed, abducted, beaten, starved, shoved and threatened with guns by state agents.
He has been denied access to his doctors.