Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has reportedly said Thursday that he had managed to convince judges, who had been on a nationwide strike, to re-open their courts. However, it was not clear when the courts would reopen. The judges began their nationwide strike Monday to protest the action by Ugandan police and military officers who raided the premises of the Kampala High Court last Thursday to re-arrest six suspects who had been granted bail by the court.
Meanwhile, there were riots Monday in Kampala as police reportedly fired teargas at opposition protestors. Among the demonstrators was opposition Forum for Democratic Change leader Kizza Besigye. He said the police used excessive force on the demonstrators.
“What happened was that students of tertiary institutions around Kampala decided to call a demonstration in support of the action of the judges, and they invited me to go and meet them, which I did. And as soon as I linked up with them, the oppressive machinery, which we have been confronted with, descended on us with teargas, firing policemen with water canons and all other anti-riot gears. Eventually, I was isolated by the police van and the riot police who tried to force me toward the police station. But eventually I refused and forced my way down to the parliament building where there was a standoff for quite some time until they allowed us to enter the parliament building,” he said.
Late reports from Ugandan quoted President Yoweri Museveni as saying that he had managed to convince the judges to end their strike and re-open the courts. Besigye said he had not heard about the judges ending their strike. He said the opposition would continue its protest.
“Well, I have not heard the statement coming out of the president. What I know is that we shall continue to oppose the unconstitutional actions of the executive. We shall defy the intended constitutional order, which they want to impose on the country, and we shall make sure that the will of the people of Uganda, as expressed in our constitution, is respected,” he said.
Besigy said the opposition would hold pubic meetings both in Kampala and in the provinces beginning Tuesday to sensitize Ugandans about what he called the unconstitutional actions of the executive.
“Tomorrow we have a big public meeting here in Kampala, and we shall be simultaneously having other meetings in the districts of Uganda, and the idea is for the population to understand what is going on, the criminal nature of the regime that we have in power, and to stand up and oppose it,” Besigye said.
The judges began their nationwide strike Monday to protest the action by Ugandan police and military officers who raided the premises of the Kampala High Court last Thursday to re-arrest six suspects who had been granted bail by the court. Besigye said the police action is a direct abuse of the due process of the law in Uganda.
“It’s a shame that we have institutions led by disgraceful people like the current Director of Public Prosecution who allows his office to be used to abuse in this kind of way. And therefore we shall definitely continue to struggle against this abuse of power by the executive and to insist that the constitutional order and the legal framework as established in this country is allowed to function,” he said.
Besigye said the opposition will continue to protest until there is what he called an urgent dialogue between all the stakeholders in Ugandan politics, including the civil society, to chart a way forward on how to re-establish Uganda on the democratic path.