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Government must get tough on Political Violence Instigators

By Ofwono Opondo

 Aug. 16, 18

The Arua municipality parliamentary by-elections concluded Wednesday, with former MP for Terego county, Arua district, Kassiano Ezati Wadri, emerging winner, in controversial, if not, dramatic circumstances, including his arrest, alongside four MPs, Robert Kyagulanyi (Kyadondo East), Gerald Karuhanga (Ntungamo Municipality), Francis Zaake (Mityana Municipality), and Paul Mwiru (Jinja East). They have all been charged in courts of law with different counts ranging from treason to inciting violence in relation to Monday’s disturbances that marred the last campaigns. It has become habitual for opposition MPs to invade by-elections under the guise of supporting colleagues and protecting votes, but often, their main objective is sowing arrogance, hate politics, and criminal behaviours, as if laws get suspended during elections. Government must get tough and election violence instigators must carry their cross, otherwise Uganda sinks into the abyss.
Wadri’s score of 6,421 voters out of 17,069 who turned up, from the 46,834 registered voters, is really paltry. This is against NRM flag-bearer, Nusura Tiperu’s 4,798, Robert Ejiku (Independent) 2,694, FDC’s Bruce Musema with 1,369, and a stream of eight other candidates, implying, Wadri, marginally got sympathies due to his arrest. It is, never-the-less, a sweet victory for him. Those bragging about ‘people power’ should know that NRM has so far won 21 out of 32 new seats and parliamentary by-elections, in addition to village, parish and women council elections in which NRM won 125 of 128 district women seats. Of 42 municipalities, NRM has 23 MPs and 19 Mayors respectively while opposition and independents share the rest.
While the three weeks of campaigns had progressed without major incidents, on the last day as all candidates brought in what they believed were their best guns, mayhem broke loose in the evening, mainly with associates of Wadri being accused of disruptive behaviour. First, they disrupted Bruce Musema’s two rallies in Ediofe ward, and Arua public school, where Kizza Besigye was forced off the microphone for several minutes. It is okay for leaders from different parts of Uganda to go and rally support for their preferred candidates. But,  it is certainly unacceptable and criminal for them especially MPs, as the above case illustrates, to incite and engage in acts of hooliganism.
It is more absurd, when they cannot show respect or at least self restraint in attempting to and actually attacking the motorcade of a sitting president. In attacking, and destroying a vehicle that bears the Coat of Arms, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to accuse these hooligans of having any other motive, other than to harm or kill the president, who they clearly knew, according to the program of the day, was on that convoy. Ugandans ought to commend the Special Forces Command (SFC), and the police who were on duty that day for having not responded to the criminal and suicidal provocation when the convoy in which President Museveni was on was obstructed by a caterpillar grader and then attacked with hails of stones smashing its wind screen by those reckless hooligans mostly intoxicated on drugs because a bloodbath could have occurred.
And seeing that many of the leading opposition political actors,  supported by the usual gullible media and social commentators, seem to be taking this matter too lightly, unbothered to ponder its immediate legal, and long term political ramifications, demonstrates the peril Uganda is really in.
Just because Uganda has been fortunate enough during the last thirty-two years to have had President Yoweri Museveni who tolerates open insults from his adversaries, doesn’t mean his protocol and life should be taken for granted. Those who want to play games with the life of a president, should look back at Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, Egypt, Libya and Iraq, to appreciate the full consequences that might befall the whole country, if recklessness is not checked.
Until this week’s events, I had personally not paid much attention to Robert Kyagulanyi, otherwise more known as Bobi Wine, in the local music industry because, many analysts, see him, as a passing wily wind, seeking attention. In fact, many fading political opportunists, are simply trying to take advantage of his music and comedy ‘celebrity status’, and so, when some electoral fortunes grace his sojourns as recently in Bugiri, and now Arua, he gets blown off the rooftops, often without fully understanding the complicated dynamics at play in given situations.
Consequently, it is, the reason, Kyagulanyi, has courted the most unnecessary troubles in his short stint in politics as demonstrated by his fist and kick fight with microphone stand in parliament last year, instigating trouble, and yet ducking police in Bugiri and Kampala, where, he fled through the backdoors. In Arua, he was plucked from the ceiling of Hotel Pacific, where he had spent the night whispering on his cellular-phone. Had Kyagulanyi been a serious man, he should have gone to the police to follow up the reported murder of his driver, Yasin Kawuma. Instead, he chose to gloat it over on social media, hoping to gain political capital. Going by these trends, Kyagulanyi, will most likely burn out much faster than expected.