I have read the blatant lies contained in a letter written by the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) and its leaders Winnie Byanyima and Jack Sabiiti to the Chief Justice. The letter was published in New Vision and The Monitor on December 31, 2005 and it alleges that I, through the Chief of Military Intelligence, bribed Justice Remy Kasule of the High Court and Deputy Chief Justice, Leticia Kikonyogo.
The lies and concoctions are not new. For long, the opposition and especially the FDC have engaged in a desperate and futile bid to tarnish the image of the Movement Government and its leaders. Many of the lies and concoctions have been directed to me personally.
We have been very tolerant with most of these fabricated lies, which in many cases are criminal in nature, as Ugandans have been able to decipher the truth, owing to the track record of the Movement. This time however, the lies are going too far and are being directed to me personally, hence this statement.
It is not difficult to see the falsity of these allegations, even just on the face of it. First, I have learnt that Justice Kasule did not preside over any bail application made by Besigye. The bail application was handled by Justice Ogoola. Why would anyone have to bribe Justice Kasule to deny Besigye bail when it was not him to take the decision on whether to grant or refuse bail to Besigye? Second, the Constitutional Court on which Justice Kikonyogo sits consists of five very senior judges and any decision on any matter in that Court is reached by a majority decision of all the five Judges. The Deputy Chief Justiceâ€™s vote in the matter is an inconsequential one out of five. Why would anyone bribe one of the five judges when that one Judge has no power to decide on a case alone?
The above aside, the Movement, which I have been leading, has spearheaded the return of the rule of law and independence of the judiciary as some of the pillars of democracy in Uganda. This was a deliberate plan to give all Ugandans an opportunity to resolve disputes constitutionally, through courts of law. We in the Movement, especially myself, can never stoop too low as to engage in bribing Judges or anybody for any reason. Personally, I can never be involved in bribing Judges because it is not how I work, and for all the years I have led the Movement Government, we have never considered bribery as part of our strategy in the struggle to emancipate Uganda.
Ugandans know that we have appointed the Judiciary to work independently without fear or favour. I have personally spearheaded the return of democracy in Uganda, which includes having an effective and free judiciary. For Uganda to enjoy these fruits of democracy, a lot of sacrifice had to be made. Indeed a lot of our comrades paid the ultimate sacrifice, death, for the current freedom and democracy. I can not be the one to undo the gains we have registered in this area. Many times, the judiciary has made decisions, which we have thought to be wrong. When that has happened, government has either complied with those decisions or challenged them using legitimate legal processes. We do not engage in bribery to influence the outcome of these legal decisions.
The lies and malicious fabrications engineered by the reactionary FDC leaders should not be left to go unpunished. I call upon the relevant authorities to investigate whether or not Byanyima and Sabiiti can not be legally punished for uttering such glaring falsehood, which are, no doubt aimed at arousing disaffection and ill will against the person of the President and the democratically elected Movement government.
I take this opportunity to ask all Ugandans to treat the nonsensical lies and concoctions with the utter contempt they deserve.
Evictions from forests and wetlands
Under Article 189(1) and the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, government is responsible for policy and management of the environment and forests. In executing its responsibility and policies in the management of forests and the environment, government must and will always ensure that there is optimal conservation of forests and the protection and preservation of the environment from abuse, pollution and degradation, and to manage the environment for sustainable development.
As we are all aware, the issues of demarcations of boundaries of forest reserves and wetlands have never been conclusively resolved. This has sometimes led to occupation of forest reserves and wetlands, by some people, many times unknowingly. While emphasising the need to conserve forests and the environment, government can not close its eyes to the sometimes inadvertent occupation and development of forest reserves and wetlands. There is therefore need to harmonise the two competing interests, so as to arrive at the most equitable formula of a harmonious solution. This requires careful planning and execution, and wide consultations amongst all stakeholders, including those who occupy the forest reserves and wetlands.
In view of the above, I hereby direct that all evictions of people alleged to be in occupation of forest reserves and wetlands should stop forthwith, while the government makes consultations with all the concerned stakeholders, including the occupants.
The writer is the President of Uganda
How can FDC say I bribed judges?