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Uganda Opposition Denounces Government Policies

  • Peter Clottey

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni addresses the ruling party members in Entebbe, Uganda, April 24, 2012.

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni addresses the ruling party members in Entebbe, Uganda, April 24, 2012.

The leader of Uganda’s opposition group For God and My Country (4GC) will hold a news conference Wednesday to underscore what he calls the government’s “failed promises.”

Mathias Mpuga said his group will also soon begin protest marches, which the government has in the past condemned as aimed at creating chaos and instability.

“I will brief the country about our activities that we intend to undertake, including a series of outreach campaigns around the country to awaken Ugandans who are apparently very frustrated with the regime’s failure to offer basic services to the country, while blaming everybody, but themselves,” said Mpuga.

The pressure group said it will legally challenge Attorney General Peter Nyombi’s previous decision to ban Activists for Change, from which the 4GC evolved.

The government has also banned the 4GC saying the opposition-organized demonstrations and protests have often turned violent, as supporters clashed with police, especially in the capital, Kampala.

Constitutional analysts said the government’s declaration effectively criminalizes all of 4GC’s activities, including demonstrations and its planned walk-to-work campaigns.

"As far as we are concerned, and as far as the Ugandan constitution is concerned, the ban is illegal, it’s unconstitutional," said Mpuga.

“In fact, we have gone ahead to challenge the legality of the ban in the constitutional court," he said. "At the same time, we are going ahead to defy it by going ahead with our activities because we are not under obligation to obey unlawful and unconstitutional proclamation… We cannot be cowed by [an] unlawful proclamation.”

Critics accuse the group of flouting rules by using Uganda’s motto “For God and My Country,” and the country’s national flag, as well as paraphernalia during their rallies, which they said contravenes Sections 3 and 4 of the National Flag and Armorial Ensigns Act. But, Mpuga disagrees.

“It’s not our intention to desecrate the sanctity of the national motto… We set out to popularize the motto because we believe that part of the problem bedeviling our country is the failure of the leadership of this country to respect the values of the founding fathers of this country,” said Mpuga.

Members of the group say their upcoming protests are aimed at pressuring the government to address the challenges the country faces, which they say put harsh financial constraints on citizens.

But, senior administration officials have said the group aims to force a regime change by creating chaos and making the country ungovernable. Mpuga said the government has often deployed violence to prevent Ugandans from demonstrating to register their displeasure at the way the country is being managed.

“The problem with the regime in Kampala is that they believe that the only equation of this country is the NRM [ruling party], which we disagree with. And, we challenge whoever believes that our activities are illegal, to challenge legally, but not brutally,” said Mpuga.

“If they are going to engage us in street battles, that are different [because] we have the capacity to mobilize Ugandans [against] this regime if they try to brutalize our people, like the way they did last year,” he added.