Friday, 7 February 2014

Demand for change, Ugandans told

                                                                            Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire  
Kampala- Justice minister Kahinda Otafiire has asked Ugandans to become assertive in demanding their constitutional rights if they want change.
Speaking at Makerere University on Wednesday, Gen Otafiire urged Ugandans not to fear the transition of power because this was dealt with in the Constitution.
“The struggle for democracy is painful. You should concentrate on telling the people their rights within this Constitution. Emphasise to those in power that power belongs to you and not to them,” the minister said, while presiding over the launch of the book ‘Our Greatest Fear of the Transition of Power – An open letter to the President’.
American-based Ugandan Godfrey Sseruwagi authored the book that chronicles violence under former president Idi Amin and other regimes before the NRM took over power in 1986 to restore some sanity.

The book also recognises various lapses and achievements of the ruling NRM, ending with a clarion-call to the President to organise a peaceful and orderly transfer of power. Once he does this, the author argues, President Museveni will be recognised as “Father of the Nation.”
UN rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders Margaret Ssekaggya, Democratic Party president Norbert Mao and Ms Jolly Okot Andruvile, the co-founder of the Invisible Children, contributed to debate that preceded the launch.
“The problem is that those in power sometimes tend to think that opposition is subversion and those in opposition sometimes think that in opposition you must be subversive,” Mr Otafiire said.
He explained that Ugandans needed to be assisted to “realise their full potential to contain us (in government)” and that free expression for all and sundry should never be breeched by those in power.
Ms Ssekaggya, who is also the former chairperson of the Uganda Human Rights Commission, said peaceful transition could not take place with violent elections, abuse of the principle of separation of powers and independence of institutions and politicisation of every issue.
Mr Mao dismissed the motion to crown Museveni “Father of the Nation,” saying he had in many respects not made a difference with his predecessors whom he condemned.
“If President Museveni decides to again stand in 2016, the prospects for peaceful change are going to further diminish,” said Mr Mao, dismissing Mr Otafiire’s notion that the constitution caters for peaceful change.
Makerere University chancellor Mondo Kagonyera said regime change was not a priority for Uganda. “Those preoccupied with removing Mr Museveni are being unfair. Where do you put those who do not want that,” he asked.

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