Category archives for: Uganda

U.S. Hunt for Kony Over, Justice for Victims Remains

By Christina Okello

Six years after the US sent troops to Central Africa to help hunt down notorious warlord Joseph Kony, the US Africa command (AFRICOM) announced this week that its mission was over. Critics warn the Lord Resistance Amry (LRA) still poses a risk and that the withdrawal could create a security vaccum in the region.

The US decision to pull out of the Central African Republic this week came as no surprise.

It was announced earlier this year when new US president Donald Trump took over the White House, and began to review his country’s commitment in Africa.

The hunt for Joseph Kony has already cost the Department of Defense nearly 800 million euros in six years. An enormous amount for a rebel group perceived as little threat, according to some sources in AFRICOM.

Even so, analyst Joseph Ochieno says he’s baffled as to why the Americans are leaving empty-handed.

“The original objective was very specific: the mission was to catch and kill Joseph Kony and that hasn’t happened,” he told RFI on Friday, hours after American special forces began withdrawing from Central Africa.

The head of AFRICOM, General Thomas Waldhauser, told reporters that the Lord Resistance Army was living in “survival mode,” but pledged to continue training African troops to avoid leaving a void in the region.

“We are told that there are about 100 of his [Kony] men, and 100 can be a big number, considering what we know about terrorism these days,” adds Ochieno.

Simply put, the “mission is far from accomplished,” he says.

Hidden agenda

US special forces were deployed in 2011 by the former Obama administration to neutralize the LRA, one of Africa’s longest surviving rebel groups.

But Ochieno reckons there may have been more to it than that.

“Cynics have suggested very strongly that the US’ real interests were not about Joseph Kony, but about entrenching its hegemonic programme within East and Central Africa,” he says, suggesting that Kony was merely a way of getting America’s foot in a region, long controlled “by the French”.

In a way, the French will be the ones lumbered with the problem of tracking Kony down, reckons for his part Paul Jackson, a professor of African politics at the University of Birmingham.

“If he resurfaces again within the Central African Republic and starts recruiting again, then that becomes the problem of CAR and by proxy, the French, because of their historical ties and previous intervention; so it’s kind of passing the buck onto the French really,” he told RFI.

Kony the High Priest

Uganda has also pulled out its troops from Central Africa, saying “Kony no longer poses a threat”.

Jackson isn’t so sure: “Kony is the sort of individual that you need to be extremely careful with. Of all the sorts of African insurgency movements, this is the most mystical of all of them, and in a way he is the sort of high priest.”

The Africanist is convinced that as long as Kony remains at large, the LRA could relaunch fresh attacks.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to hear news of kidnappings from schools and all the rest of it, which is how they started to build up the LRA in the first place.”

Since it was founded by Kony in 1987, the LRA has slaughtered more than 100,000 people and abducted 60,000 children who were forced to become sex slaves and child soldiers, according to the UN.

No justice

“The war was devastating on this population,” Oryem Nyeko, the head of advocacy at the Justice and Reconciliation in Gulu, told RFI.

“Millions of people were displaced from their homes, countless numbers are missing,” he says.

Gulu, then the entry point for most of the vigilantes and seekers who became obsessed with Joseph Kony, is today safe.

“I think in the Ugandan context, people aren’t really afraid of the LRA, I think it’s kind of far removed from their lives,” adds Nyeko.

But the hunt for justice isn’t forgotten.

“I think that the question of justice for past crimes that were committed by the LRA is still very much on people’s minds here,” he says, highlighting that most have been surprised to hear about the US’ withdrawal.

The task of finding one of the world’s most notorious and elusive of warlords will now be up to the Central African Republic, if indeed that’s where Kony is.

Difficult hunt

“One of the difficulties about Kony is that he doesn’t just stick to one country,” explains Jackson of Birmingham University.

Although the warlord is most associated with Uganda, he hasn’t lived there for decades, having been reported in South Sudan, the northern DRC, and then in the Central African Republic.

“Finding any one individual or even a group of 100 people in an extremely difficult terrain is like finding a needle in a haystack,” says Jackson.

“The Ugandan military is by far the most capable, and yet they failed,” before adding, “so did the Americans.”

Democratic Party Leaders in Luweero Defy Police On Meeting

By Dan Wandera

Luweero — Democratic Party leaders in Luweero District have vowed to defy a police directive stopping the planned meeting for party leaders in the area scheduled to take place at their offices in Wobulenzi Town on Friday.

Mr Erasto Kibirango the Democratic Party Chairman for Luweero District says the police cannot be serious to direct them from holding the meeting simply because an education institute located three miles away is holding a graduation ceremony.

He says such directives indicate that the force has lost its mandate of protecting its citizens and now acts in the interest of some individuals.

“We shall not honor the police directive stopping our planned meeting on Friday. We informed the police in time. We are surprised that the Luweero District Police Commander is referring us to his boss the IGP for clearance,” Mr Kibirango said on Thursday.

He said they have “important matters” to discuss as members of DP in Luweero District.

“There is no law that bars us from inviting the party leaders from other parts of the country which possibly explains the police panicky behavior. We have already informed our party leaders in and outside Luweero to remain vibrant and engage in peaceful party activities,” he said. “We shall defend our constitutional rights to assemble in a peaceful way. We played our part by informing the police and not seeking permission. It’s incumbent upon the police the DPC to inform his boss and not the party officials in Luweero District.”

The Daily Monitor has seen a copy of a police letter addressed to Luweero DP party leader where Mr Paul Wataka the District Party Commander directs DP leaders in Luweero to seek clearance from the office of the IGP.

The same letter states that Friday is not suitable for the planned meeting since the police will be busy at a graduation function for Bukalasa Agriculture College.

In an interview with this reporter, Luweero DPC Mr Wataka confirmed writing a letter to Luweero DP leaders on what they are supposed to do.

“The message is very clear. It is not true that we are partisan as they claim, Mr Wataka said on Thursday.

On Sunday the Police in Masaka District blocked a rally organised by a section of DP leaders in Masaka District.

Uganda

Equatorial Guinea’s Obiang Tells Museveni to be Careful With Oil

Uganda is looking to tap into Equatorial Guinea’s experience of oil production, in order to build its own capacity… Read more »

Court Dismisses Museveni Defamation Case Against Otunnu

Photo: Abubaker Lubowa/Daily Monitor

Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) President Olara Otunnu.

By Juliet Kigongo

Kampala — Court in Kampala has dismissed the case in which former Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) party president Olara Otunnu was accused of defaming President Museveni.

Buganda Road Court grade one magistrate, Ms Joan Aciro dismissed the case on grounds that the prosecution had failed to produce sufficient evidence against Mr Otunnu.

“The only prosecution witness brought to court was Mr Gideon Tugume, a journalist working with Top Television. However, Mr Tugume who appeared in court once was never cross examined by the defence as was required in this case.

Prosecution was put on notice to bring him for cross examination but in vain. Prosecution failed to produce him therefore such testimony is of no value on court record,” Ms Aciro said.

The trial magistrate also noted that Mr Tugume in his testimony had informed court that he captured Mr Otunnu making the defamatory statements against the president. However, he did not submit in court any recording to prove the allegations.

“Court can not only base on only witness’s allegations to convict someone,”Ms Aciro added.

After the court ruling, Mr Otunnu through his lawyer Mr Asuman Basalirwa said he would sue the government over malicious prosecution.

The case arose from Mr Otunnu’s January 16, 2013 press conference in which he allegedly questioned the deaths of what he called President Museveni’s allies since the Front for National Salvation’s (Fronasa) struggles to date, saying they should be investigated.

Prosecution had stated that on January 16, 2013 at UPC party headquarters at Uganda House, in Kampala, Mr Otunnu, with intent to defame President Museveni, allegedly caused a publication of a defamatory matter.

The said incidents include: atrocities in Luwero while Museveni commanded rebellious forces between 1981 and 1986; the massacres of Muslims in Ankole in 1979 when Museveni was commander of the Western Axis of anti-Amin forces composed mainly of his FRONASA contingent.

Others are; the massacre at Ombaci in West Nile in 1981; the scorched-earth counter-insurgency operations and genocide in northern and eastern Uganda between 1986 and 2006; and the wanton killing of unarmed demonstrators on the streets of Kampala, in September 2009.

Otunnu reportedly pointed out that a lot of disappearances and mysterious deaths had occurred under Museveni’s watch and authority since the Front for National Salvation’s (FRONASA) struggles to-date, saying they should be investigated.

His remarks prompted the Attorney General to write to the then UPC president giving him five days to make a public apology for his comments, or face legal action. Mr Otunnu has since declined to make any apologies.

The State further claimed that on February 28, 2013 without reasonable excuse, the UPC leader also ignored a police summon to appear before the Media Crime Department at CIID despite acknowledging receipt of the summon at a press conference he convened at Uganda House.

Equatorial Guinea’s Obiang Tells Museveni to be Careful With Oil

Photo: Stephen Wandera/Daily Monitor

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni (R) welcomes President of Equatorial Guinea Mr Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo at State House to inspect a parade Wednesday April 26, 2017.

By Mark Keith Muhumuza & Frederic Musisi

Kampala — Uganda is looking to tap into Equatorial Guinea’s experience of oil production, in order to build its own capacity before oil production starts.

Speaking at the Joint Oil and Gas Convention and Regional Logistics Expo at the Kampala Serena Hotel, on Thursday, country’s President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who wrapped up his visit to Uganda shorty after speaking at the conference, said they had agreed with President Museveni of Uganda on areas of corporations especially in the petroleum sector.

Equatorial Guinea which produces 300,000 barrels per day has been an oil producing country for the last 20 years.

“This visit has actually enabled us to identify a number of important areas for economic cooperation for the two countries, such as those areas where we have been able to sign accords like the petroleum and gas sectors,” President Obiang said.

The details of this partnership are still not yet known but the Uganda government is keen on picking lessons from countries that are involved in oil production.

During bilateral talks between heads of state of the two countries on Wednesday night, Uganda’s Energy Minister, Ms Irene Muloni signed an MoU for cooperation in oil and gas with Equatorial Guinea’s minister Obiang Lima.

Mr Nguema said as Uganda proceeded with production cycle, there were important issues the country needed to address in order to maximise benefits.

He said the country needed to participate in the production process, deliver local content laws that protect nationals and also support refining of oil products.

“The issue of catering for example, like the supply of food and feeding the oil operators, this is something that local companies can carry out very well. It is not expected that foreign companies will be the ones carrying out this kind of business in your country,” he added.

Equatorial Guinea has not in the last 20 years built an oil refinery. Since 2010, the country has been planning for an oil refinery but the economics involved are still considered risky.

Uganda is planning to build a 60,000 barrels per day oil refinery in Kabaale, Hoima District. Sourcing for the investor has proved futile as the viability of the project continues to be questioned.

President Obiang also warned that Uganda needs to be on the lookout for those looking to derail on the dreams of oil production.

President Museveni, on the other hand, emphasised that Uganda was in “fast-track mode” to have oil production start by 2020.

He also praised President Obiang for the resource management in the Equatorial Guinea which he says has transformed the country into a model economy after taking over an economy in disarray in 1979.

“H.E Obiang is a great pan-Africanist and has led his country from a state of devastation to one of the Worlds’ fastest growing economies… Under his able leadership, Equatorial Guinea has transformed into a model economy with modern infrastructure. 90 percent of the country has now been electrified and significant investments have been made into basic services and education. Most of this tremendous transformation in EG has been made possible from the utilization of the oil and gas resources properly,” President Museveni said.

Uganda is expected to start oil production that will peak at about 80,000 barrels per day. Equatorial Guinea’s production is estimated at 300,000 barrels per day, with 90 percent of that exported. It has a population of about 1.2m people compared to Uganda’s 35 million people.

President’s Nguema’s advice to Uganda, however attracted scorn, especially on social media platforms, with several commentators saying given Equatorial Guinea’s experience in managing its natural resources, he should be the last person to offer advice to Uganda.

According to the New York-based Natural Resources Governance Institute, that monitors transparency in extractives, the country is the third-largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa, supplying 304,000 barrels a day but its oil revenues are mostly misused.

According to the IMF, Equatorial Guinea boasts the highest level of per capita income in all sub-Saharan Africa, at $22,300 per year about the same as Portugal but more three-quarters of the population live below the poverty line.

President Nguema, is ranked currently as the longest serving non-traditional leader in the world with 37 years under his belt. He is followed by Angola’s Jose Eduardo dos Santos with 36 years but announced plans to step down this October, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe (36 years), Cameroon’s Paul Biya (33 years), Uganda’s President Museveni (31 years), and Sudan’s Omar Bashir (27 years).

Besigye Announces Five-Point Action Plan

Photo: Daily Monitor

Former presidential candidate Kizza Besigye.

By Alfred Ochwo

The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) presidential candidate in the 2016 elections, Kizza Besigye, yesterday announced five strategies that he intends to focus on as he seeks to change political leadership in the country and “hand over power to the people.”

Saying Uganda was now mired in a crisis across all spheres (political, economic and social), the FDC founding president told journalists at a press briefing at his Katonga road office that the food shortage across the country is just one of the many intense and far-reaching crises the country is facing.

“This has been there for long but the parliamentarians want to put it as if it has just fallen on the country; this has been in the making for quite some time,” he said commenting about parliament’s debate on Wednesday concerning a state of emergency over famine.

Besigye named the five strategies of his new campaign as ‘reclaiming our victory’; the ‘my land, my life’ campaign; ‘our tax for services’; LC elections now; and ‘Time up at 75,’ the last one a reference to the age-limit restriction in the Constitution for presidential candidates.

Members of the ruling NRM have started a quiet push to remove the restriction, which would pave the way for President Museveni to contest in the 2021 general elections.

Besigye said unless the country puts all its problems into proper perspective, they will not address them successfully.

“From my own background of a doctor, you cannot treat an ailment unless you know the cause. That would be wasting time,” Besigye said.

He said ordinary people had turned into passive observers and have no say in many of the decisions taken on their behalf. The 61-year-old politician said since Uganda attained independence in 1962, all presidents have rigged their way to power and, therefore, ultimately they decide how they want to lead.

“This is where all our problems start because the people do not have control over their leaders,” he said.

Besigye said unless people are determined to fight the bad leadership, the problems of hunger, poverty, corruption, insecurity and bad roads will not be solved.

“Just one year of drought in the country and MPs declare a state of emergency yet we have the largest lake in the region and many rivers with fresh water,” he said.

He said he remembers the President Museveni of the 80s who used to say that as a leader of a country where many people did not have shoes, it was foolish of him to hop on his presidential jet and go to brag at the United Nations.

Besigye said the insecurity and the wave of crime in the country is as a result of injustice.

He said: “Once you have political injustice where few people are in the control of power of the country, you can never be secure. This leads to economic, social and cultural injustice in the country.”

Army Officers Set for Huge Pay Rise

Photo: The Observer

UPDF soldiers (file photo).

By Olive Eyotaru

UPDF soldiers of all ranks are set to receive a massive salary raise in the 2017/18 financial year, which starts on July 1, The Observer has learnt.

According to figures that this newspaper has obtained from the ministry of Defence headquarters in Mbuya, the biggest beneficiaries will be officers holding the two most senior ranks in the army.

A General is set to receive an 86 per cent salary increment, raising the pay from about Shs 2 million to Shs 3.77m, while a Lieutenant General will receive an 83 per cent pay rise, from Shs 1.87m to Shs 3.4m.

The salary of a Major General will rise by 40 per cent from Shs 1.7 million to Shs 2.4m while a Brigadier will receive Shs 2m, up from Shs 1.6m (a 33 per cent rise). Soldiers’ salaries are not taxed.

All the other ranks, right from a Private at the bottom of the military chain to Colonel, will also receive a considerable improvement in their earnings, which is set to further bloat the army’s already large salary and wage budget.

MINISTER CONFIRMS

The minister of Defence, Adolf Mwesige, confirmed the army’s salary enhancement plans during a meeting with the parliament’s Defence and Internal Affairs committee yesterday.

“We have a proposal which has been blessed by the High Command and Defence Council to make sure that the minimum a private should get is at least equivalent to a primary school teacher’s salary,” Mwesige revealed. “That decision was adopted and we want the committee to support it so we get funds to pay our soldiers. We know it is not enough but we could begin from there.”

Mwesige, who was flanked by senior ministry staff and senior UPDF officers, was in Parliament to defend the Defence ministry’s Shs 1.396 trillion budget proposals for the 2017/18 financial year, which they had earlier submitted as part of a ministerial policy statement.

In the policy statement, the minister noted that one of the defence ministry’s medium-term plans is to “gradually and affordably increase the salaries of soldiers until they come in line with the salaries of teachers and medical workers.” The statement says they also plan to enhance the salaries of scientists attached to the UPDF.

“The salary of the UPDF personnel is still low; there is need to raise the salary of the Private to equate to that of a Grade III teacher. This will go a long way in improving the morale and welfare of the soldiers,” he said.

According to our source, the issue of salary increments for army officers has been discussed by the army’s senior leadership, right from the High Command, Army Council, and top management of the defence ministry.

In addition to salaries, UPDF members also receive allowances, food rations, medicare provided to the troops and their families, as well as formal education provided to the children of all the soldiers.

PIECEMEAL INCREMENTS

In the 2017/2018 financial year, Defence is set to receive Shs 1.396 trillion, up from 1.263 trillion that was allocated to it in the current period. According to the ministerial statement, about half of the budget (Shs 641 billion) will go into paying wages and salaries of the soldiers.

However, according to the ministerial statement, the government is unlikely to enhance the salaries of all the UPDF officers at the same time. This will mean that some of the proposed salary increments will only be effected in the subsequent financial years.

It is not clear which ranks will be catered for in the next financial year, as the Defence ministry did not delve into the matter at Parliament. However, according to the ministerial policy statement, the initial salary enhancement would require Shs 87.594 billion. Yet, due to inadequate funds, the ministry intends to provide only Shs 43.594 billion in the 2017/18 budget and the rest of the money in 2018/19 financial year.

The chairperson of the Defence and Internal Affairs committee, Judith Nabakooba (Mubende Woman), said Parliament will have the final say on whether the Shs 43.595 billion should be included in the next financial year’s budget.

TOO LOW?

Minister Mwesige let the cat out of the bag at Parliament after Ntoroko MP Ibanda Rwemulikya raised a concern over the low salaries hitherto paid to the soldiers.

Later, when The Observer took Rwemulikya aside and offered details about the proposed increments from its own sources, the MP was not impressed.

Focusing his discussion on the lower ranking soldiers, Rwemulikya said the government must work to raise the salaries of privates to at least Shs 700,000.

“The Shs 400,000 they are proposing is too meager,” Rwemulikya pointed out. “These people have families and need to save. While we welcome the small increment, it should be further enhanced over the next financial years.”

Shadow Defence Minister Gilbert Olanya (Kilak South) was alarmed at the discrepancies in the salary increments, noting that the percentage increment for top ranking army officers was disproportionate to those of the low cadres, which creates a large salary gap.

“While it is commendable to enhance their salaries, this is still too low,” Olanya said. “If you look at the soldiers at the rank of a private, most of them engage in battles in Garamba and South Sudan, risking their lives while the Generals sit in air conditioned offices. But look at their miserable pay!”

Mubende Residents Sue Buganda Prince Over Land Evictions

By Jonathan Kamoga

Residents of eight villages in the central district of Mubende have sued a Buganda prince and a Chinese company for alleged torture, as well as evicting them from their land, and paying them peanuts as compensation.

Henry Kalemeera Kimera, who claims to be a grandson of former Buganda King Daudi Chwa, and Formasa Limited, a Chinese company, were sued along with the registrar of titles of Mityana district, the Attorney General and Quality Parts (U) Ltd, a limited liability company.

The complainants, who hail from the two sub-counties of Madudu and Butoloogo, reside in the villages of Butolo, Kaswa Nakasozi, Mukiguluka, Kicucuulo Namayindi, Kisiigwa and Bikonyi.

Kimera, who claims to be the owner of the contested 2,000 acres of land, allegedly sold it to Formasa. However, residents say the company went beyond its legitimate boundaries and encroached on their land.

In civil suit number 31, which was filed on April 12, 2017 at the High court in Mubende, the residents say they, “lived happily on the suit land until 2010 when four people previously unknown to them, including a one Henry Kalemeera, Paulo Kazuga, one Richard and another, visited some of the villages and laid claim to ownership of the land comprised herein.”

However, the residents contend that they have lived on the disputed land from ages, some of them for time immemorial, and have registered their land holdings with the Buganda Land Board, to which they pay tenancy fees (buusulu).

RESIDENT’S COMPLAINTS

When unknown surveyors entered the affected parishes in the company of armed police escorts without their prior knowledge on July 10, 2011, the residents subsequently engaged police, their local council leaders, and Resident District Commissioner Florence Beyunga.

The strangers, at the urging of local authorities, held meetings with the residents. But, according to the complainants, police and the RDC purportedly ordered them to vacate the land. The residents also blamed police for not acting on reported cases.

“The failure or refusal by the police to protect the plaintiffs and other affected people from the atrocities perpetrated by the second defendants is a violation of the defendants’ duty under article 20 of the constitution to protect the rights, freedoms of the people,” the suit partly reads.

The residents claim in the suit that Formasa has forged certificates for land on plots 37, block 61 and plot 27, block 61. They also accuse the company of using violent methods, such as destroying their crops, unlawful arrests and detentions, forced evictions, savage beatings of individuals and torching of houses, to force them out of the land.

Now, through their lawyers M/S Rwakafuuzi and company advocates, the residents want court to direct the Chinese company to vacate all the land they were evicted from.

They also seek an order for compensation for their damaged crops, acts of torture committed against them, houses destroyed, violation of their right to privacy and costs of the suit.

In May last year, The Observer reported about the alleged land wrangle in Mubende. In the story, residents accused Formasa of forcefully evicting people and purchase of land at prices set by the company. (See: Chinese firm accused of land grabbing, The Observer, Monday, May 23, 2016).

FORMASA OFFICIAL SPEAKS

Mr Steven Tumwine, a manager at Formasa, said he wasn’t aware of any court proceedings against his company brought by the residents. He, however, dismissed the residents’ claims against his company.

“In those plots of land [under dispute], we have compensated about three quarters of them,” he said. “The land now fully belongs to us.”

Tumwine argued that there is no assault case that any resident of the two sub-counties has ever been lodged against his company. He said their company has, however, taken some residents to police for vandalism.

“They say we bribed the police [but it’s only] because when we plant trees and they come and cut them, we take them to police,” he added.

Tumwine acknowledged that his company bought the land, which is about 2,000 acres from Kalemeera and that the latter was fully paid.

Our Path to Peace, Democracy Still Misty

opinionBy Isabella Bwiire

From what has been going on, it can be seen that the road to a free and stable Uganda is still thorny.

The conditions for ensuring a stable and sustainable peace have to be tackled primarily at the economic level. But for this to happen, state officials, including ministers and parliamentarians, must be accountable to the people and be subject to the latter’s power.

This is the only way corruption and graft, which have resulted in billions of shillings that should have gone to socio-economic development being stolen over the last many years, can be checked.

Militarism, which dominates the thinking in the ruling party, has ensured that large amounts of state funds from the national budget are allocated to military hardware and activities.

At one time, this was estimated to be as high as 60 per cent of the national budget. If insecurity has in part to be traced to poverty and lack of economic and social development, then the dominance of the armed forces in the political economy of the country has to be seen as a factor contributing to the future instability of the country and further impoverishment of the people.

The mere fact that the top officials in the army have the possibilities of accumulating wealth through corruption, which they use to build mansions for themselves, denies the people not only the means of development, but also ensures that the army personnel have a vested interest in maintaining themselves in power.

An oppressive state whose economic and social structures are riddled with high-level corruption generating widespread poverty can only result in the political disempowerment of the affected population.

Today, the outcry throughout the country is against the widening and deepening poverty in which the poor can survive by partly disenfranchising themselves through ‘selling’ their voting rights to elect people who will not represent them but will instead join the corruption brigades to recover what they ‘lost’ to the people during their campaigning.

Such impoverished and disenfranchised people cannot have ‘sovereign’ power and control over state institutions. To the contrary, they become victims of the very institutions supposed to serve them.

They are thus disempowered and further impoverished in the process. Such a population cannot enjoy ‘positive peace’; they can only become victims of ‘negative peace,’ which is a form of war whose real purpose is to use up the products of the system without raising the general standards of living of the people.

Therefore, they find themselves in this kind of perpetual warfare to maintain peace and being disempowered in the process. People in this awkward Ugandan situation have resorted to finding another form of positive peace through socio-cultural actions. This include some restoration of self-respect and human dignity through cultural identity, restoration of some kind of morality in general human relations by returning to the ‘roots’ of things as a way of finding ‘inner peace’.

In the modern world which is crumbling because of these contradictions, this socio-cultural peace can only be transitory. It is a temporary resort because in itself, it has no prospect of sustaining individuals on any long-term basis.

It has to interpret the reality around it more carefully because some of this reality tends to contradict the socio-cultural identity which is desired. It has to find a new synthesis with these contradictory forces which exist beside it. On the basis of this reconciliation, some kind of future sustainable peace and stability can be found in a new world.

For democratization to be achieved, people should have some influence over government policies. But I cannot see how this can be achieved in the short or even medium term given the present political and prevailing socioeconomic situation in Uganda.

The author works with Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI).

Lawyers’ Body Justified to Guide Judicial Recruitment

editorial

With 23 top judicial jobs falling vacant in the coming months, the process to replace them has taken on greater importance with the general quality of the bench for the next couple of years at stake.

Positions set to fall vacant include that of the deputy chief justice, two judges of the Supreme court, four judges of the Court of Appeal and 16 judges of the High court.

While the steps to be taken before one is appointed a judge are clearly laid out in the Constitution, this has not stopped reports about politics getting in the way of ability and integrity or judicial officers getting positions they didn’t apply for.

In response to persistent complaints about corruption in the judiciary, Chief Justice Bert Katureebe has been vocal in his condemnation of the vice, while at the same time lamenting that he has no powers to discipline errant judicial officers.

However, there would be fewer, if any, errant judges in the first place if the recruitment process was more transparent, meticulous and rigorous. It is, therefore, encouraging that Uganda Law Society has expressed interest in the ongoing recruitment process and seeks to play a constructive role.

According to their letter released this week, ULS, which was asked by the Judicial Service Commission to help identify and recommend suitable candidates, wants selected individuals to pass not only the intellectual competence test but also “a consistent history of honesty and moral character in professional and personal life.”

The ULS further insists that candidates it is to recommend sign the International Bar Association (IBA) anti-corruption compact to demonstrate an uncompromising stand against corruption.

With lawyers, who form the pool from which magistrates and judges are chosen, generally not enjoying high perception indicators in the public sphere, the best stage at which to stop unscrupulous judges is at the entry point.

It is, therefore, incumbent on stakeholders such as Uganda Law Society to support the Judicial Service Commission in ensuring that the right people are hired in the right places.

These vacancies provide a good opportunity to raise the bar (pun intended) for our judicial officers, and we must not let it go to waste.

Uganda

Equatorial Guinea’s Obiang Tells Museveni to be Careful With Oil

Uganda is looking to tap into Equatorial Guinea’s experience of oil production, in order to build its own capacity… Read more »

Activists Challenge Law Used to Charge Stella Nyanzi

Photo: The Observer

Stella Nyanzi (C) at Buganda Road court.

By Derrick Kiyonga

The law under which Makerere University researcher was charged at the Buganda Road court has been challenged at the Constitutional court by the FDC’s chairperson for Katikamu South and two civil society groups.

The petitioners are Swaibu Gwogyolonga Nsamba, Unwanted Witness Uganda and Human Rights Enforcement Foundation. Under challenge is section 25 of the Computer Misuse Act 2011.

It states that any person who willfully and repeatedly uses electronic communication to disturb or attempts to disturb the peace, quiet or right of privacy of any person with no purpose of legitimate communication whether or not a conversation ensues commits a misdemeanor and is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding twenty four currency points or imprisonment not exceeding one year or both..

Like Nyanzi, Nsamba was charged under the same section over an offensive social media post against President Museveni. He appeared before Buganda Road court on December 19, 2016 for posting on Facebook that he will announce and mourn the death of President Museveni as and when he dies. The post was accompanied by a photoshopped picture of Museveni.

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Ugandan Court Blocks Media From Covering Stella Nyanzi’s Case

High Court Orders Prison to Produce Activist Stella NyanziCourt Blocks Journalists From Covering Nyanzi’s Case

In his petition, Nsamba says that the section contravenes Article 29 (1) B(a) of the Constitution when it is applied to an individual who makes critical comments on public affairs regarding a politician or a person who has assumed a public role.The article stipulates that, “Every person shall have the right to–freedom of speech and expression which shall include freedom of the press and other media…”Through Rwakafuuzi and company advocates, Nsamba says the section of the law should be struck down by the court because the Constitution establishes Uganda as a democratic society.”My lawyers have informed me that freedom of expression is a very important element for the sustenance of the democratic order,” says Nsamba, who is out of prison on bail.Also under challenge in the petition is section 179 of the Penal Code Act which provides for criminal libel which the petitioners says is inconsistent with Article 29(1)(a) of the Constitution as well as regional and international human rights and standards.In his affidavit in support of the petition, Geoffrey Wokulira Ssebaggala, the executive director of Unwanted Witness, says the imposition of criminal sanctions for defamation has chilling effect on freedom of expression and the maintenance of democratic order.More on ThisStella Nyanzi Sent Back to Luzira Until May 10

The controversial Makerere research fellow Dr Stella Nyanzi will remain on remand until May 10 to know the fate of her… Read more »

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