British MPs discuss Uganda’s democracy

Inside the Westminster Hall at the British Parliament buildings, British Parliamentarians debated a motion on Uganda’s democracy which they said has systematically been undermined by the state.

The motion was moved by Dr Paul Williams, the MP for Stockton South who referred to himself as a friend of Uganda but without any financial interests in the former British colony.

Having worked for three years as a volunteer at Kisiizi Community Hospital in Kanungu district, Williams showed that he has a fair understanding of the Ugandan affairs as he invited the UK Parliament to slap travel and economic sanctions against some Ugandan leaders and military officials.

“There are serious concerns internationally, about the Ugandan leaders’ systematically undermining democracy. MPs have been arrested, institutions that should protect the democratic rights of the citizens are being weakened and the voices of ordinary citizens are being ignored,” Williams said.

Dr Paul Williams presenting the motion on Democracy in Uganda

In an apparent response to Ugandan government officials who were quoted in the local press as telling the UK Parliament to mind about British issues as opposed to the perceived violation of democratic rights, Dr Williams said that Britain has a legitimate interest in Uganda  given the long historical relationship that Britain shares with Uganda right from the days colonialism.

“The Ugandan people concede that the institutions of democracy are being eroded,” he said, citing the use of the police and the military to curtail opposition political activities yet the two security agencies should ideally be the very institutions to defend democracy.

He further told the British lawmakers that the state had been personalised, further accusing President Yoweri Museveni’s government of using Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) and a chain of Internal Security Organisation  (ISO) operatives to suppress political dissent.

He cited the numerous times that FDC syrongman Dr Kizza Besigye has been “arrested, beaten and harassed many times that he has lost count of the times.”

 

Williams also mentioned the August 2018 events in Arua that led to the arrest of Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine and 34 other Opposition supporters including MPs.

He spoke at length about the government’s efforts to curtail Kyagulanyi’s arrest, detention in a military facility before being charged in the military court over what Williams called trumped-up charges.

He called for a review of UK’s military support to Uganda since the army and President Museveni’s elite guard unit – Special Forces Command (SFC) are being use to batter and arrest opposition leaders.

“We need to know that the UK is not enabling the committing of the atrocities… our training should help the Ugandan military to become more professional,” Williams said.

Williams advocated for equal space to be accorded the opposition to mobilise and prepare for the 2021 general elections.