Melanie Nathan May 08, 2011
Women activists are to march in Kampala today to protest government’s brutal response to demonstrations against the spiraling cost of living.Announced yesterday – on Mother’s Day – the women’s protest comes two days after lawyers under their Uganda Law Society ended a three-day strike over the high-handedness of the security agencies in dealing with the bi-weekly walk-to-work protests. Given what is going on in Uganda now, this is an unbelievably brave endeavor and extremely dangerous. But they have our eye -0 the world is watching and even more so with the Anti-Gay bill now almost ready to be voted upon this week. Why dont we join forces and show solidarity while telling Ugandans they are being smoke screened by anti-gay fervor.
“We as women in civil society are hereby convening to register our deep concern and condemnation on the use of excessive force by the Police and other security agencies and subsequent escalating violence and to call upon the State to take critical measures to address the key issues/ concerns raised by the public so as to avert a national crisis,” the organizers said in a statement issued yesterday.
Police deputy spokesperson Mr Vicent Ssekate said police had no objections to the march but added that they had been informed that “no political statements are going to be made but simply talk about the situation in the country”. Ms Carol Namagembe, one of the organizers, told Daily Monitor that the women will issue a statement to the UN Rapporteur for Human Rights, Ms Margaret Ssekaggya, and to President Museveni.
“We shall be telling the government that this is not about politics,” Ms Namagembe said. “The issues we are addressing cut across board. It is the beginning of a sustained effort to demand accountability from government on issues affecting Ugandans, especially women.”
The organizers of the women’s march were keen to distance themselves from the walk-to-work protests but it is likely to be a busy week after opposition announced a series of protests this week, including a vigil on Thursday during President Museveni’s swearing-in ceremony.
In a joint statement presented by Democratic Party president, Mr Norbert Mao, the leaders also declared a public rally to be held at the Constitution Square tomorrow.
“We are convinced that there can never be a better venue for this important event than the Constitution Square which is named after our Constitution under which those inalienable rights are enshrined,” Mr Mao said.
The police, however, said no rally would be permitted at the square, which is in the heart of the city.
“No rally will be allowed at Constitution Square,” police spokesperson Judith Nabakooba said yesterday. “The opposition should look for other venues and not Constitutional Square.”
The opposition, however, insisted yesterday that with or without police permission, they would still conduct the rally there.
Insisting that the rally would go ahead, Mr Mao said: “We are inviting all Ugandans to join us to find solutions to the current economic meltdown. We re-affirm our commitment to the rule of law, non-violent and peaceful expression of dissatisfaction to the recent developments.”
Other activities announced in the week of protest include the routine walk-to-work on Monday and Thursday, a joint rally at Clock Tower on Wednesday, a walk-to-mosque on Friday and a walk-to-church on Sunday. Saturday shall be a day for parading torture victims, Mr Mao said during a press conference.
Opposition officials from all the main parties who attended the press conference said they would boycott Thursday’s swearing-in ceremony, citing concerns about the integrity of the February 18 presidential election.
Meanwhile, FDC officials are today expected to announce a date for the return of party leader Kizza Besigye who is out of the country for treatment after he was doused in pepper spray during his violent arrest last week.
LISTEN TO MY INTERVIEW WITH BAHATI
Michelle Meow and Melanie Nathan spoke to David Bahati on Swirl Radio, aired yesterday – and here the podcast can be found by clicking here: First the News, then Bahati- http://swirlradio.com/