Age limit: European Union condemns arrest of protesters

Police arrest Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago as he prepared to head to the city centre. PML photo.

By Beatrice Leni

The European Union delegation to Uganda has expressed concern over arrest of people participating in demonstrations in relation to the age limit debate.

The Police spent the better part of Thursday morning curtailing and arresting people who participated in a number of demonstrations in Kampala city, its outskirts and upcountry against the lifting of presidential age limit as enshrined in Article 102 (b).

Some of the people arrested included Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, Makerere and Kyambogo University students. Other arrests were made at the entrance of Parliament, where security had been tightened since Monday, in preparation of the protests.

The demonstrations were aimed at blocking MPs from receiving a motion from Igara West MP, Raphael Magyezi, who was expected to table it this afternoon, seeking leave of Parliament to draft a private member’s bill to amend the Constitution, including Article 102 (b).

In a statement issued today, the EU expressed concern about what the build-up of tension in and outside Kampala, which could lead to infringing the fundamental freedoms of Ugandan citizens and damage the country’s international reputation.

The diplomats further expressed concern over the siege at Great Lakes Institute of Strategic Studies (GLISS) and Action Aid offices last evening.

“We monitor closely and with concern the most recent reports of cases of arrests and actions targeting NGOs and political activists. We are also troubled by the inflammatory language used in debating issues of national interest, pertaining to the democratic process in Uganda. We consider that major issues related to the national development should be debated in an open and inclusive national dialogue”, the statement reads in part.

The diplomats called on government to guarantee the fundamental freedoms of expression and assembly enshrined in the Constitution, which in particular provides the right of all citizens to fully express their civil and political rights without fear of intimidation.

The statement was issued on behalf of the European Union Delegation to Uganda, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom as well as Norway and Iceland.



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