MAY 26, 2010: Guns Don't Deliver Democracy

Guns Don't Deliver Democracy
SOURCE: The Observer (Kampala)

Mukono North has been under some kind of siege for days by all manner of security outfits ranging from those commanded by the RDC Maj. David Matovu, Maj. Kakooza Mutale, to regular police.

This heavy deployment was in response to President Museveni's complaint that some DP supporters who are garnering votes for Betty Nambooze were unleashing terror and violence on NRM's Rev. Peter Bakaluba Mukasa. Bakaluba claimed his car and a kiosk of one of his supporters were torched by Nambooze's supporters.

Therefore the presumed intention of this heavy deployment of security operatives was to stabilize Mukono North during the voting process with the hope that those who intend to unleash any terror would be scared off.

Mukono's security was reinforced by police officers from as far as Kira Road Police Station. The place was swarming with armed men and women in plain clothes.

Unfortunately, since they are supposed to work incognito many of them could not be easily identified as the right ones. In such circumstances, some self seekers can easily seize this opportunity to cause havoc and eventually besmirch the name of the opposition.

The question is: do we really need armed men among unarmed people to maintain law and order? It is also strange that while the security operatives are paid by our taxes and are supposed to be impartial and give equal protection to all Ugandans, some security heads seem to suggest the insecurity is usually caused by the opposition and therefore they don't deserve the protection.

Even in President Museveni's speech in Mukono, he seemed to suggest that security operatives were being deployed to tame the unruly opposition members. In a way, this is very intimidating and it kept some people away from the electoral process.

Trouble is, in such a charged atmosphere, with the history of vote rigging and bribery, intimidation of opposition agents by the ruling party supporters, it is extremely difficult not to expect emotions to run high.

If the opposition in Mukono North didn't have to worry about NRM supporters backed by the state apparatus, targeting them or stealing their votes, one could make an argument that they would be better off without guns.

But as a practical matter, there have been numerous instances of civilians being wronged, despite government promises of protection. We need to instill confidence in the people. People shouldn't be nannied by security operatives even where it is not necessary.