Let Opposition Speak, Associate [editorial]

After holding uninterrupted political rallies in Mbarara and Masaka earlier last month, opposition leaders and activists yet again found themselves at the receiving end of police harassment last week while trying to hold electoral reform mobilisation rallies in Tororo, Mbale, Kasese and Kabale.

Not only were they blocked from holding rallies, they were even prevented from appearing on local radio stations. In Kasese, the police stormed the studios of Guide Radio station and ordered FDC President Gen Mugisha Muntu and local leaders out, even as the programme was ongoing!

What kind of multiparty governance is that where the leader of the country’s largest opposition political party can’t be allowed to address rallies or speak on private radio stations unless cleared by the police, whose basis for granting or denying permission has never been clear?

Besides, what kind of permission do people need to exercise their freedom of expression and association, which are fundamental freedoms enshrined in our Constitution?

Seeking to discourage armed struggle as a means to attain power, President Museveni likes to say that his NRM has introduced the microphone as opposed to the gun, so no need to go to the bush. That is sensible. But now aspiring leaders are not even being allowed to use the microphone!

Moreover, for a long time the police justified their hard-line and at times brutal approach towards opposition activities by painting especially former FDC leader Dr Kizza Besigye and Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago as confrontational politicians who only understand the language of force and tear gas.

However, now we are seeing similar treatment being meted out to very gentle activists and politicians such as Bishop Zac Niringiye and Muntu, respectively, which makes us wonder.

This is fuelling the thinking that the police are not even-handed, especially on matters political. Even elements inside NRM have started complaining that the police are biased against certain political opinions and tendencies.

Meanwhile, as the police refused opposition leaders to talk to the people in Kasese, at Kololo ceremonial grounds on Monday they were facilitating a gathering organised by religious leaders to thank President Museveni for signing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law.

What is good for the goose should be good for the gander.

Source : The Observer

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