Kampala, Uganda | URN | Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have accused the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) of turning themselves into a military wing of the country’s ruling party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM).
Sarah Bireete the Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Governance (CCG ) asserts that the recent wave of abductions in the country are as a result of the army viewing the opposition activists as enemies of the regime in power.
She notes that an army that is meant to be non-partisan is trained to protect the territorial integrity of the country has taken up a partisan role and is using its resources to attack NRM regime opponents in direct disregard of the constitution, the penal code and the police act as well as other laws.
“The national army is now behaving like a military wing of NRM and persecuting non NRM supporters in this country,” she said.
Bireete was speaking alongside three other panelists on Friday 26, March 2021 during an online discussion organized by CCG titled “Escalating abductions, torture and trial of civilians in military court martial in Uganda, which way?”
A number of People have gone missing following abductions by state security forces that started during the height of the presidential and parliamentary election campaigns last year.
Early this month Internal Affairs Minister Jeje Odongo tabled before the House a list of names of 177 missing Ugandans who he said are in detention following their arrest during and after the January elections.
However this list was dismissed by the opposition with the National Unity Platform (NUP) declaring that 609 people remain unaccounted for.
Bireete also asserts that there has been a gradual and systematic capture of institutions that are meant to keep the regime in check.
She cites the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) which has not had a chairperson appointed since the death of Med Kaggwa in November 2019, she also alleges that keeping the position of the Inspector General of Government vacant indefinitely is intentional.
Her argument was supported by Sarah Kasande the Head of Uganda Office – International Center for Transitional Justice. Kasande argues that the government is deliberately depriving key institutions of their power by making sure that they are not fully constituted nor well resourced.
She points out that most of the resources utilized by the UHRC are from development partners.
Bireete argues that even the police has been captured by the army and this has led to the total collapse of the criminal justice system in the country.
Micahel Aboneka a lawyer and activist notes that he intends to go to court over the takeover of the police by the army as well as the continued presence of the army in parliament.
“The constitutional roles of the police are clear and the constitutional roles of the army are clear, so when you merge the two how does that sound?” He wondered.