Government has punched holes into threats by opposition pressure group, ‘People’s Government’ to drag President Yoweri Museveni to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for alleged crimes against humanity.
The deputy government spokesperson termed the move as political gimmicks whose primary objective is to win opposition popularity in the forthcoming elections.
On Friday, Elias Lukwago, the Deputy President of the ‘People’s Government’ who was flanked by Dr. Kizza Besigye, the ‘People’s Government’ President and his ministers told reporters in Kampala that they are at the final stages of dragging the Commander In Chief of the armed forces of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni who also doubles as the President to the ICC for the various crimes he has allegedly committed on Ugandans.
The alleged crimes include suppression, torture and extra-juducial killing of Ugandans, invasion of parliament and desecration or abrogation of the national constitution, use of state security apparatus and a plethora of milita groups to persecute, dehumanise and humiliate political opponents, members of Civil society organisations and the citizenry as well as enforced disappearances and curtailment of civil liberties.
However, Deputy government spokesperson, Col Shaban Bantariza says Lukwago and his group are simply politicking and will not go far with their petition.
“These ladies and gentlemen in the Opposition know we are going into a political contestation, they are not ready and not well prepared as usual. So saying that they are going to take the President to ICC they only want to make themselves be felt – they are simply politicking,” Bantariza said.
He told SoftPower News that only the State or government, United Nations and the ICC prosecutor are the only authorities that can refer a case to the ICC, wondering in what category out of the three does the ‘People’s Government’ belong.
He says even if the ‘People’s Government’ petition the ICC Chief prosecutor to engineer investigations into their allegations, they have no guarantee that her finding will be in their (opposition) favour.
“They are saying they will gather evidence, take it to the Prosecutor such that she can investigate – we have no problem about that, let them go ahead, they are only wasting their own time. By the time that lady investigates and takes a decision which does not necessarily mean that it will be in their favour, it will be years after years and yet we have only one year to the next political contestation period which they are part of yet their actions are politically motivated,” he said.
“The cause is politics, the upcoming political season. They are simply politicking because they want to be relevant and also hoodwink the population that they have means and ways and power and authority to take the President to ICC as well as discouraging the NRM supporters,” Bantariza said.
He said the allegations are intended to play with the psychology of Ugandans and to win them over in the forthcoming elections.
“They are conducting physiological Operations on the supporters of NRM such that people can say ‘Now, why should we support this man who is being taken to ICC, how are we sure are about what will happen?’ Beyond that, there is nothing they can achieve from that”.
On allegations of torture and extrajudicial killings, he said, the President can not be prosecuted for collective crimes.
“Can you now take Ochola (Inspector General of Police) to court because a certain Police Constable has tortured someone? When our subordinates commit offences, we can only take political responsibility,” he said.
As regards the raid on Parliament in 2017 by security operatives, on the basis of which to petition ICC, Bantariza said the government of Uganda is responsible for safeguarding the lives of all Ugandans including Parliamentarians.
“Is the ICC Prosecutor going to say Ugandans are free to commit crimes within Parliament chambers? Because when you break microphone and throw them at other MPs, isn’t that assault? They need to know that Parliament is not out of bounds for security”.
According the Col Bantariza, if there is insecurity in Parliament and the Sargent at Arms (who is in charge of ensuring order) deems it fit to call for reinforcement from other security agencies, that is no offence.
He said the threats are as shallow as the previous similar ones made against former Police chief, Gen Kale Kayihura.
He also said that the opposition is only seeking to hide under the guise of collecting signatures, to hold political assemblies, but cautioned them against doing this in violation of law.
“We know they are trying to organize public meetings, processions and assemblies. It’s their right but they must use it within the laws. Section 28 to Section 36 mandate Police to regulate and manage public meetings and public processions,” the Deputy Government Spokesperson said.