By Ronald Musoke
Norbert Mao, the Democratic Party president has protested last week’s police invasion of the party headquarters at City House in Kampala which also involved the arbitrary arrest of members of the Uganda Young Democrats, the party’s youth wing.
In a letter dated Nov. 28 sent to the Inspector General of Police, Kale Kayihura, and copied to the Internal Affairs minister, Hillary Onek, Mao says following the weekly party press briefing on Nov.27, a contingent of police officers led by one Mwesigwa, said to be based at the Central Police Station in Kampala occupied the corridors of the party headquarters without any prior notice of presence.
Mao explains that he invited the leader to his office and explained to him that the DP is a national political party regulated by the law and as such they detest being treated like common criminals.
“If the police have any reason to question our activities, they should be civil,” Mao reportedly told the leader of the group.
According to Mao, following the interaction with the said officer, he (officer) said Police ‘thought’ DP was planning to hold a protest march to Parliament.
It should be recalled that the same date, Nov. 27, was the D-Day for voting on the contentious Petroleum, Exploration, Development and Production Bill 2012 in parliament.
Civil society had mobilized Ugandans to walk to Parliament and witness the debate and subsequent vote on the Oil Bill.
“I told him that if that were the case, we would have announced our intentions in the press briefing,” Mao says.
Mao hastily added that the Oil debate is a political dispute and the police should not undermine its authority and credibility by appearing to have any side or even the slightest partisan inclination.
Mao’s letter reminded Kayihura about the role of the police, saying its role is not to interfere with the enjoyment of rights enshrined in the constitution but to maintain law and order.
“The right to assemble and to demonstrate peacefully in petitioning the government to redress wrongs is enshrined in the constitution.
“Be informed that interfering unlawfully with the right to protest will only invite more protests.”
Mao reminded Kayihura in the letter that the DP has never been ‘instruments of aggressive conduct and violence.’
“We have always restrained our members who have manifested even the slightest tendency toward violence.”
“We are a legitimate political party that has strived to build a better Uganda against all odds and we demand to be treated with dignity and respect.
It will be a tragic day for our country if ever the Democratic Party leadership known for its undying commitment to peaceful means, resolve that peaceful means will not help us attain the ends of truth and justice and thus declare open the sluice gates of violence.”
“That is a scenario we should avoid. Please change your methods of work. Obey the law. We cannot take any more arbitrariness. You have pushed us too far,” Mao’s letter concludes.