Kampala – The speaker of Uganda’s parliament has called for the arrest of security agents involved in the suspected beating and torture of 33 people, including a popular musician, over their alleged role in the stoning of President Yoweri Museveni’s convoy.
Supporters of an independent candidate contesting a parliamentary by-election stoned Museveni’s motorcade on Aug. 13 as he was leaving the town of Arua after campaigning for a ruling party candidate.
Songwriter Robert Kyagulanyi, who is also a lawmaker, was among dozens of people detained shortly afterwards on suspicion of taking part in the assault.
Their lawyers and others have said the detainees have suffered beatings and torture, accusations the government has rejected as “rubbish”.
In a letter to Museveni dated Aug. 27, Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga said those responsible for any maltreatment of the detainees must be brought to justice.
“I am concerned that no effort has been made to arrest the security officers from the (Special Forces Command), Military Police and Uganda Police Force who were involved in the violent actions against unarmed civilians,” she wrote in the letter.
“This is therefore to demand that the officers concerned be apprehended at the earliest opportunity and presented in court.
“The Uganda parliament will not condone or acquiesce in acts of torture.”
The arrests sparked two days of anti-government protests in the capital Kampala and other towns last week.
Protesters and opposition supporters accuse Museveni, in power since 1986, of stifling dissent through intimidation, beatings and detentions, charges which his government denies.
On Monday a Ugandan High Court granted bail to the 33 people.
Presidential spokesman Don Wanyama could not confirm whether the letter had reached Museveni, but said the issues it purportedly raised had been handled.
“It was President Museveni who was the first to condemn the violence and shooting of civilians during and after (the by-election)”, Wanyama said.
“He ordered the arrest of police officers who shot dead a civilian in Mityana Town,” Wanyama said, adding that the president would respond once he received the letter.
This is the second time Kadaga has written a letter to Museveni demanding action about attacks on lawmakers.
Last year when soldiers attached to Museveni’s office stormed parliament and beat up lawmakers during a debate on scrapping the presidential age limit, Kadaga wrote to him and complained about the incident, Ugandan media reported.
The presidential age limit has been removed, opening the way for Museveni – now 74 – to seek re-election in 2021.