Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Asan Kasingye has defended President Yoweri Museveni’s decision to block one of his followers on Twitter. It follows a suit filed by Hillary Innocent Taylor Seguya, a Harvard University student in August 2019 challenging president Yoweri Museveni for blocking him on his twitter handle @KagutaMuseveni.
In the same suit, Seguya @HillaryTaylorVI, also challenges Kasingye, the Political Commissar in Uganda Police Force and government Spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo for blocking him from accessing their respective Twitter handles @Akasingye and @OfwonoOpondo respectively.
The student of International Relations was blocked four months after openly telling Ghanaian President Nana Addo Akufo-Addo that he had wanted to exchange him for Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni. The Ghanaian leader had just made a presentation on Pan-Africanism to a group of students at Harvard University in the United States.
Seguya said he admires him so much to the extent that he wished he can replace Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni due to his performance. “I wish we could exchange you for our Ugandan president. He’s a dictator – Yoweri Museveni – he has been in power for 33 years and we are telling him enough is enough,” Seguya said.
It is not clear why the three leaders blocked him, months after the statements. However, Seguya contends blocking him infringes on his right against discrimination as enshrined in the constitution as well as his constitutional freedom of speech, expression, freedom of thought, conscience and belief.
Through his lawyer Male Mabirizi, Seguya argued that the three twitter handles were helping Ugandans in the diaspora to get information and feedback from the state actors.
The student alleges that he has been denied a right to participate in the affairs of the government and to participate in peaceful activities to influence the policies of the government which are guaranteed in the Ugandan constitution. He adds that blocking him tantamount to political persecution beyond what is acceptable and demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society and asked the court to declare the decision illegal.
In his response to the suit, Kasingye says Seguya’s application is misconceived, lacks merit and amounts to abuse of court process. He states that he opened his twitter handle in April 2015 as a personal account for his private use.
“My account is for private/personal interest such as family, football, religion sharing jokes and at times, police-related matters but at a personal level like any other Ugandan citizen” reads the affidavit in part.
Kasingye says his Twitter profile shows clearly that his views are not necessarily those of the Uganda Police Force and neither do they represent his official position in the force.
He also says that he has been advised by his lawyers in the Attorney General’s Chambers that Seguya can get information about Uganda or President Museveni via State House on their twitter handle @StateHouseUg and different newspaper handles on twitter and television live streaming among other options.
He also said that the same information can be obtained from Media Centre via its official Twitter handle @ugandamediacent as well as its website.
“I have been advised by the Attorneys from the Attorney General’s Chambers whose advice I verily believe to be true that the twitter handles @KagutaMuseveni and @OfwonoOpondo are private twitter handles and not for the offices they hold”, the affidavit adds.
He asked the court to dismiss Seguya’s application arguing that he (Kasingye) enjoys the constitutional right to decide who to associate with on his private or personal account. The court is yet to start hearing the matter.