The deputy president of Uganda’s main opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) said a proposed government law that would give police the power to regulate public assemblies is a well-crafted attempt to suffocate opponents of the ruling party ahead of next year’s election.
Prescovia Salaamu Musumba said President Yoweri Museveni’s government wants to use the proposed law to undermine freedom of speech and association which are guaranteed by the constitution.
“They are creating a situation of insecurity of instability and of fear. And so, they are using the rule of law to tramp down on the rights and they are prepared to go all the way of being unconstitutional because the bill threatens to tramp on people’s rights to associate and assemble,” she said.
Salaamu Musumba said the proposed law is a calculated scheme to thwart the ability of opposition parties to reach out to their supporters ahead of next year’s vote.
Officials of the government say the proposed Public Order Management Law will help the administration’s efforts to curb possible violent outbreaks as well as criminal activities.
Kizza Besigye leader of Uganda's main opposition FDC party.
The Inter-Party Cooperation, a loose group of opposition political parties have also criticized the proposed Public Order Management Law, saying the government will gain undue advantage by “crippling” opposition activities during campaigns ahead of the vote.
Supporters of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party said the measure will help the government prevent any act of terrorism such as the recent 11th July terror attacks in the capital, Kampala.
But, FDC deputy president Salaamu Musumba said the entire Ugandan opposition will resist any effort to pass the proposed law which she described as tyrannical.
“The terror attack is just an excuse. By the way many people in Uganda don’t believe that that was a terror attack. They do believe that this was an effort to draw attention largely onto a government that has lost support, a government that wants to draw attention of the American government and also a plot to tramp down on our rights.”
Analysts say the new law will give the police far-reaching powers in deciding whether to allow or prevent any political rally.