AUGUST 1, 2010: Beating, Undressing Citizens is Terrorism We Must Fight!

Beating, Undressing Citizens is Terrorism We Must Fight!

SOURCE: The Monitor

By Margaret Wokuri

At the time of writing this article, there is a call by 'Akijul'- an independent research organisation in partnership with Deepening Democracy for a stakeholders meeting in Entebbe, to discuss a research report titled 'Towards the Uganda 2011 Elections: An Assessment of conflict risks and Mitigating Mechanisms'.

This report highlights the possible violence scenarios likely to occur in the aftermath of the 2011 elections, one of them being the likelihood of widespread violence especially if the electoral process is rigged.

Among the mitigating measures, the report recommends the need to increase citizen's engagement in the electoral process. It says: "There should be vigorous broader voter education campaign involving the EC and CSOs. This campaign should address among others, the importance of violence-free elections, the value of citizens participation in democratic processes and the citizens role in ensuring free and fair elections.

This, I should say, is the heart of National Alliance for Free and Fair Elections (NAFFE).

NAFFE has been conceived in the wake of increasing political tensions that threaten the peace of the country and seeks to place citizens at the centre of the 2011 elections by ensuring that their voices are effectively amplified towards shaping the destiny of their country's future.

The overall objective of NAFFE is to coalesce democratic forces and strengthen voices of ordinary citizens to demand for a peaceful, free and fair 2011 election. Specifically, NAFFE seeks to provide a platform for different actors to demand for and ensure a level ground for the 2011 elections; prevail over political actors to commit to having a peaceful 2011 election; pressure Parliament to move the necessary constitutional amendment to allow for establishment of an acceptable- to -all electoral body and demand for a conducive environment for all political actors in the race for the 2011 election. Like Akijul, NAFFE is convinced that if these pre-emptive measures are not considered, Uganda is headed for post electoral violence like it was in Kenya.

Last week, NAFFE informed police that it would hold peaceful demonstrations to draw the attention of the guests attending the AU summit in the country to Uganda's electoral challenges. Instead of providing security, the police reacted by going into a smear campaign and heavy deployment. This, of course, is not surprising given that Uganda is now under a near patrimonial state which survives on lies, bribery, divide and rule, intimidation.

What was meant to be peaceful processes ended with unnecessary arrests and beatings suffered by unarmed citizens at the hands of police brutality. Ten people were arrested in Kampala, three in Jinja, seven in Busia, nine in Soroti, six in Mbale, nine in Arua including the area Woman MP Hon. Christine Abia Bako, three in Bushenyi, and 17 in Rukungiri.

In another scenario in Kampala, two people were undressed at Kampala Central Police Station, one of them -a woman- walked half naked up to FDC Kampala office at City House, the other - a man- also walked half naked up to the IPC head quarters on Kantonga Road. The reason these two were undressed is because they had gone to CPS - to check on their arrested colleagues- wearing 'NAFFE" T-shirts. That is our state of the nation!

That said, NAFFE will carry on and calls upon all people, passionate about Uganda's future to join this noble cause. To Arthur Larok, (Head of Programmes Uganda NGO Forum) a big welcome.

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