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Lukyamuzi, Who Is Your Foreigner?

By Vision Reporter

Added 12th February 2001 03:00 AM

I challenge Lukyamuzi to point out the provision in the constitution which empowers the people to attack foreigners who try to vote

I challenge Lukyamuzi to point out the provision in the constitution which empowers the people to attack foreigners who try to vote The Other Side Of The Coin With Paul Waibale Senior It is trite law in Uganda that incitement of violence is a felony. I have no reason for imagining that Ken Lukyamuzi, Lubaga South MP, was not aware of that legal position when he recently urged people at a political rally to hack with machetes any non-Ugandan who dares to vote in the forthcoming presidential elections. Nor have I any ground to believe that the Honourable MP is so naive that he was not aware of the grave risk of extremist elements among his audience responding to his remarks in a manner contrary to the observance of law and order. What then motivated an intelligent man of Ken Lukayamuzi's calibre to stoop that low? According to press reports, which have not been denied, Lukyamuzi told his audience: "If any non-Ugandan dares to go to vote, if you have a machete just cut him up." As if that was not bad enough, he added the blatant lie that the constitution gave the people the power to hack (presumably to death) any foreigner who attempted to vote. Interestingly, there is no provision in the constitution, as far as I am aware, that specifically states that foreigners have no right to vote. However, the foreigners are barred through a process of exclusion, according to the terms in which Article 59(1) is couched. That section categorically states as follows: "Every citizen of Uganda of 18 years of age or above has a right to vote and to be registered as a voter for the purpose of public elections or referenda." That article strictly restricts the right to vote exclusively to Uganda citizens, and leaves no possibility whatsoever for a non-Ugandan to vote in either public elections or referenda. Given that constitutional position, therefore, nobody in his right senses can quarrel with Lukyamuzi's contention that non Ugandans have no right to vote and must not be allowed to do so. Be that as it may, there is no justification for a Member of Parliament to deliberately misdirect members of the public into believing that they have a right to take the law into their own hands and hack to death any foreigners who attempt to vote. I would challenge Lukyamuzi to point out the provision in the constitution which, as he claims, empowers the people to pick up machetes and attack foreigners who try to vote. On the contrary, Article 22 (1) of the constitution stipulates that "No person (including foreigners) shall be deprived of life intentionally except in execution of a sentence passed in a fair trial by a court of competent jurisdiction and the conviction and sentence has been confirmed by the highest appellate court." If the people accepted Lukyamuzi's theory and acted in accordance with his directive, they would be acting unconstitutionally and would be liable to prosecution or even the gallows if convicted of murder. Not surprisingly, when Lukyamuzi is invited by CID, through the Speaker of Parliament, to go and explain his utterances, he opts to ignore the invitation and fly out to Nairobi. From Nairobi he asserts that he stands by the statements he made at the rally and would not alter it unless the provision in the constitution which "tend to mandate Ugandans to jealously protect their Uganda citizenship" are amended . If the use of machetes is what Lukyamuzi considers to be the appropriate method of protecting Uganda citizenship, he is still living in the 15th century. But even if the people had the right to deal with non-Ugandan voters in the manner suggested by Lukyamuzi, there would still be the problem of how the foreigners would be identified. How would one tell merely by looking at somebody that he is a congolese, Rwandese, or Sudanese, and not a Muganda, Munyankole, or an Acholi? How can anybody be sure that somebody looking at Lukyamuzi for the first time might not think that he (Lukyamuzi) is a Tanzanian? Should the honourable MP be hacked to death merely because a group of enthusiastic supporters of one Presidential Candidate doubt his nationality? Nobody disputes the view that non Ugandans have no right to vote. Nobody is opposed to legitimate measures designed to curb attempts by foreigners to infiltrate our voters registers and cast illegal votes to influence election results. The Electoral Commission has invited all presidential candidates to appoint agents to monitor all centres at which the registers will be displayed and object to any non eligible voters listed. This does not apply to only foreigners but also to Ugandans who might not be qualified on account of age or other factors. If those who make allegations of congolese, Sudanese, Rwandese, or Tanzanians being ferried in to register are serious, then they should vigorously respond to the invitation to watch all display centres. Meanwhile, Lukyamuzi's sinister remarks in favour of violence is a good indicator regarding the direction from which the gospel of physical confrontation emanates. We now know where to look. Ends

Lukyamuzi, Who Is Your Foreigner?

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