In his letter, President Museveni calls for refrain from the use of the word 'torture', "until we establish the full facts of the events of that day".
KAMPALA - President Yoweri Museveni has responded to the Speaker of Parliament on the events surrounding the recent Arua Municipality by-election.
Rebecca Kadaga wrote to the President late last month calling for action against security personnel reportedly involved in the torture of MPs and other people at the time.
In his letter to the Speaker, Museveni gives his account of what happened in the lead-up to the hotly contested August 15 poll.
In an anti-climax of the campaigns, two days before voting day, the President's motorcade was stoned by "a menacing group", one person was shot dead and others injured, while several arrests were made.
"The Chief of Defence Forces and the Inspector General of Police have, following these events, come out to clearly state that the Armed Forces do not condone torture and have instituted investigation committees to get all the facts," Museveni writes.
"It is, therefore, premature and factually wrong to suggest that “no action” has been taken to arrest the wrong-doers among the security forces."
The President also underlines what happened in the Jinja East and Bugiri Municipality polls. He says women were assaulted and beaten, property damaged and an individual killed in violence "allegedly caused by some MPs and other accused persons".
Here is the President's letter, dated August 31, in full:
Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga
Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda
REQUEST FOR ACTION AGAINST SECURITY OFFICERS WHO ALLEGEDLY PARTICIPATED IN ACTS OF TORTURE IN ARUA
Reference is made to your letter dated 27th August 2018 addressed to me requesting for urgent action against security officers who allegedly participated in acts of torture against Members of Parliament and other civilians in the recently held Arua Municipality by elections.
As you are aware, I visited Arua and participated in campaigning for the NRM candidate, Hon. Nusura Tiperu, on the last day of campaigns which until that day, I was informed, had been conducted peacefully. However, on that same last day of campaigns, Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi a.k.a. Bobi Wine’s group who had had a rally in the North West of the town, probably deliberately drove to the West of the town in order to block my vehicles that were taking me to the helicopter that had landed and stayed at Pokea Seminary School. I was surprised to see this procession of the Opposition groups of people walking on foot and on top of vehicles with a road-grader that had been acquired to, maybe, block the road that I was using to get to my destination.
It was just after passing the grader, that I heard two bangs on my vehicle. I was then informed by my ADC that my vehicle had been hit by projectiles thrown by those groups in the Opposition procession. I instructed our convoy to ignore the hooligans and continue to the helicopter; which they did without firing a single bullet. These are clear signs of the remarkable discipline and restraint as exhibited by the armed forces in the UPDF which is a culmination of the last 48 years of dedicated struggle.
However, I was concerned about the damage that this very same group would cause in town which was the direction in which they were heading and I had wanted to pass on my concerns to the Regional Police Commander. Unfortunately, he was not there to see me off so I expressed these same concerns to the Brigade Commander of the Area and told him to work with other Security Agencies to protect the people of Arua town and their property.
Upon my departure, the members of the Special Forces Command (SFC) force also went back toward the town to assist Police to disperse the menacing group who were clearly so intoxicated that they saw no problem in stoning the vehicle of the President of Uganda, flying the flag of Uganda and the Presidential standard. I am informed that the forces have arrested the ring leaders of these rioters as well as some suspects who may be engaged in these criminal acts. Unfortunately, one Uganda was killed in this hooliganism, a number were injured by bullets and many were injured by stones.
The Chief of Defence Forces and the Inspector General of Police have, following these events, come out to clearly state that the Armed Forces do not condone torture and have instituted investigation committees to get all the facts. It is, therefore, premature and factually wrong to suggest that “no action” has been taken to arrest the wrong-doers among the security forces.
In Mityana, where two Policemen either in panic or out of malice, shot and injured a number of people and killed two people who were in a taxi and had nothing to do with the riot, realizing their mistake, dropped their guns and fled. The Police is hunting for them. However, in Arua and in Kampala the circumstances need closer study because a very dangerous situation had been created by the terrorists who appear to have intended to kill a lot of people. I am most pleased with the actions of the Security Forces in dealing with the menace of rioters and minimizing the loss of life and property.
Rt. Hon. Speaker, I would also like to draw your attention to incidents in Jinja East and Bugiri Municipality where women were assaulted and beaten, property damaged and one person killed in the violence, allegedly, caused by some MPs and other accused persons. This was in addition to cases of alleged illegal voters importation and other electoral malpractices.
I am informed that all these issues are in court in the form of electoral petitions filed by Mr. Nathan Nabeta and Mr. Oketcho. As part of the allegations, it is said that terrorists are deliberately transported from Kampala areas to these up-country constituencies to beat, injure and intimidate the voters as well as damage our citizen’s property. Even in Rukungiri, there were verbal threats, attacks on individuals and damage to property apart from the use of sectarianism and other forms of electoral malpractices. Ms. Winnie Matsiko is in court over these very same issues.
Furthermore, I would like to advise that we await the outcome of the investigations (into the allegations of wrong doing if any) currently being carried out under the leadership of the Chief of Defence Forces and the Inspector General of Police and refrain from use of the word “torture” until we establish the full facts of the events of that day. However, I am sure you are aware that Security Forces are entitled to use reasonable force while dealing with a suspect who is resisting arrest in the execution of their mandate to protect civilians under threat by rioters or terrorists or even threat to property. The security forces can also use reasonable force in self-defence, as provided for by the SOPs (standard operating procedures) of the Police.
I am advised that due to the sub judice rule I cannot give my opinions on the issues since these facts are now before Courts of Law for adjudication. However, I would like to make it categorically clear that the NRM Government shall not tolerate any acts of hooliganism and intimidation against innocent Ugandans as was exhibited in Arua.
As for the cacophony of the so called human rights defenders, in reality agents of imperialists’ interests and their local lackeys, I would advise them to stop wasting their time in Uganda which has got capable systems and institutions beginning with a competent and professional Army that can decisively handle whatever problem or shortcoming that we may encounter.
It is clear that these idlers are enjoying our good roads and staying in nice and brand new hotels in Arua and Gulu built during the NRM Government filing malicious stories against Uganda using our first class internet backbone. They hope, by so doing, to slow down or even reverse the gains of Uganda. That will not happen as those who fought for Uganda and successive younger generations that are patriotic, working with peace-loving forces in the World, are rapidly building Uganda.
Rt. Hon. Speaker, as you may be aware, only this week, I commissioned two tea factories in Bushenyi District, a cement factory in Tororo and an electrical and electronic appliances factory in Ntinda. Uganda is on a rapidly developing curve and the NRM Government shall not be side tracked by idlers spreading false stories about Uganda.
I salute you, Rt. Hon. Speaker for remembering to add that Parliament does not condone any acts of lawlessness.
Yoweri K. Museveni
P R E S I D E N T
Copy to: H.E. the Vice President
Rt. Hon. Prime Minister
Rt. Hon. Deputy Speaker of the Parliament
Hon. Minister of Internal Affairs
Hon. Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs
The Chief of Defence Forces
The Inspector General of Police