Uganda Peoples Congress
UGANDA PEOPLE'S CONGRESS
RULE OF LAW IN A SECURE ENVIRONMENT
- Two weeks ago UPC addressed you on economic and social policies which will be pursued when we come to power again by democratic competitive multiparty elections. The gist of rule of law is that nobody is above the law and that every citizen is equal with one another before the law. Laws are based on the basic law which is the Constitution. The Constitution should have been reached at, largely, by consensus. In case of 1995 Constitution there are articles which were bulldozed by the Movement and have remained a centre of contention and have rendered the whole basic law flawed though it is, to a large extent, a good Constitution that expresses the consensus of the people of Uganda. The flaws notwithstanding the 1995 Constitution can be a basis for reasonable governance of this nation.
- Parliament is mandated to make laws of Uganda but in this exercise Movement has used its muscle in the honourable house to negate the rights and freedoms provided in the very same Constitution. The Parliament is also mandated to regulate the actions of the executive. In most Commonwealth democratic governments, most committees of the Parliament are chaired by the opposition. In our case the odd and fraudulent Movement that denies being one party in a state does not allow opposition to chair most committees. The idea of opposition chairing House committees is to keep government on notice so as to constantly check and balance the executives' activities. We believe this is a good policy and when UPC gets in power we will reinstate the pivotal role of the opposition.
- It is the duty of the Judiciary to interpret the laws both in the Constitution (Constitutional Court) and other laws (High Court up to Supreme Court of Uganda). In the process of interpreting and delivering rulings the courts can actually be said to be involved in the making of laws. And thus neither parliament nor executive should attempt to make or propose laws that are intended to undo the orders or rulings of the judiciary. To build a democratic society based on rule of law the above principle must be adhered to.
- When we talk of rule of law we mean that the laws of the land must be followed by all, be it members of the executive i.e. President, Ministers, members of parliament, army police, civil service name it, they are all under the law. What we have under the Movement, is that some people in legal institutions operate above the law. Members of security organisation recognised by law unfortunately do not operate under the law but are above the law. Internal security organisation (ISO), external security organisation (ESO), or Chieftainancy of Military Intelligence (CMI) are a law unto themselves. They have detained, tortured and murdered citizens at will and have not been made to account. As if that was not bad enough there are illegal organisation such as Kalangala Action Plan, Wembley and a hoard of personal vigilantes that can torture and kill at will and some have orders to shoot and kill on sight. What makes them better than Kony's ruffians we leave to you to judge? UPC recognises that government needs intelligence agencies and these must be intelligent as the title connotes. They should have rules under which they operate and any lapse should carry deterring penalties. There should definitely be no illegal organisations even if they purport to operate under the aegis of the President.
- The national army is a very important institution covered in the 1995 Constitution. Though Parliament was detailed to pass laws that would govern recruitment, training, promotions, remuneration, and deployment outside the country, government has never brought to Parliament bills to operationalise this important constitutional provision. Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) has never been legally transformed from National Resistance Army (NRA), a Museveni guerrilla Army. The UPDF has continued to be NRA and operate as personal army of Lt. Gen. Yoweri Museveni. Though it may suite Museveni, it is illegal and this illegality will catch up with him to the detriment of the whole citizenry of Uganda. The only way to transform NRA into UPDF is to pass laws, by parliament, as requested by article 210 of the constitution. All complaints emanating from the army about unfair treatment in recruitment, training, remuneration, promotion and deployment including equipment, emanate from running all these important institution outside the realms of Uganda laws. In fact there is unease within the armed forces because some of them would like to be sure of their tenure of employment and to receive fair treatment depending on training and achievement. They loathe being called personal army as they are claimed by Museveni. Their future is precarious and this is a potential source of insecurity and instability. We all stand warned!
- Movement has failed to provide security for all people of Uganda and recently an attempt to groom war lords has surfaced. This is very dangerous and portends to degeneration into another Somalia or Liberia in this Pearl of Africa. It is unwise to shelve the Army's responsibility and hope to have that duty performed by Arrow or Rhino groups. Worse still, the victims of rebellions like the Acholi citizens are blamed for their predicament. It is the failure of NRA to defend the people and their property that have brought the mayhem in the Acholiland now spreading to Lango and Teso regions. Arrow groups are a mockery of defence of the poor peasants whom some cowboys/boys scouts, who want to please Museveni, have exploited our peasantry purely for political gains more than their defence and protection. UPC will bring to parliament bills that will operationize the constitutional provisions in article 210 which is the basis of grooming a National professional army.
- Police must be people's executor of the law. They must train and be equipped to detect and stop crime. Where the crime takes place police must arrest and prosecute offenders without fear or favour within the law. Police must not be biased against any shade of political opinion in execution of its duties. This needs recruiting, training and remuneration of members of Uganda Police force. Police is a constitutional institution but Movement has conscripted it as an organ of the Movement. This must stop. UPC will definitely deliver on that.
- It is criminal to have any illegal security agency and all such organs will be prescribed and the individual in them that have committed crimes prosecuted. Those persons, who torture, murder, maim and dispossess citizens of their property stand warned!
- Misuse of security agencies was highest under the regime of Idi Amin (RIP). Amin did not hide the regime he was introducing. He announced from word go that he was to rule militarily. He thus dissolved parliament, dismissed the elected government, and judiciary did not matter; in any case it run parallel with military court marshals. Amin was a creation of the British. They should be the same to moan him. The only thing we can do, with his demise, is to close this ugly chapter and move on. The only worry is that there are frequent events that remind us of the sad history today. Luwero skulls, military court marshals of civilians, orders to shoot on sight, murders in safe houses, and drive to life presidency are just Amin's nyayo.
- Rule of law therefore shall be the foundation on which UPC will revive and re-build this country but corrective measures must be taken in time to have a secure and sustainable security of the land that is people friendly. We have a long history to learn from.
For God and My Country.
Dr. James W. Rwanyarare.
Presidential Policy Commission
20th August, 2003