President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has reiterated that it is illegal to arrest someone and detain him or her for more than 48 hours without taking them to the courts of law.
He said that in the event such arrests happen, the public, especially the leaders, should document how the victims were arrested and not taken to court, then take the facts to the responsible authorities for action.
“You can do work for the people in whatever government is in power, even if you don’t support it. You use the positiveness of that government to support your people. If, like in this case, you are being arrested, If I’m a Councillor or a Member of Parliament, I would document how the people were arrested and not taken to court, bring facts, and confront the Prime Minister (Hon. Nabbanja), but with facts, because some of these people may not have time to cross-check, you need to help them with facts because you want to help your people,” he said.
The President made the remarks during an interactive session with the media at State House, Entebbe. The president and the journalists discussed a wide range of issues on security, trade, politics, and land, among others.
President Museveni noted that as a leader, his role is to crosscheck for facts on the illegal arrests and then discipline the misbehaving parties.
“The other day there was a debate in parliament where the Minister of State for Internal Affairs Gen. Muhoozi made a statement to answer the issue of people whom they say are missing. I was not following these matters but I came to know that these pro-opposition people when there’s an issue, they go to the NGOs to report that “they have arrested and made someone disappear”. Okay if someone goes missing, report it to the police station, not the NGO. That is why such information doesn’t reach the relevant authorities, but if such incidents happen, report to the police station and document it in your book. that you reported, if action is not taken, then we shall know whom to blame and deal with those breaking the law, individually,” he said while responding to a question raised by Mr. Meddie Nsereko of CBS Radio regarding the issue of detentions without trial.
“So, these arrests are illegal, and the way to fight them is by the people in authority, but also the public should use the democratic structures they have to expose illegal arrests because that was the purpose why NRM put them up.”
On the issue of Somalia joining the East African Community (EAC) yet it has security challenges, the President assured the media that the issue of economic integration is about the common market, and Somalia has been having commodities from East African countries even before joining the community, thus contributing immensely to the market of East Africa. He also noted that the EAC will be able to deal with the insecurity in the newest member of the community.
“If that is the case why not formalise it? And the issue of insecurity, we shall handle it but meanwhile trade is also going on because even within the war, goods are moving.”
The President was responding to a question raised by Mr. Kungu Adam of Sanyuka TV and Radio 4.
President Museveni also tipped journalists to utilize their media houses for constructive and developmental purposes.
“Radios and other media houses should be talking about important issues like the non-tariff barriers instead of abusing Museveni because that is where your future is. The NRM advised that integration is vital for your prosperity, but people don’t talk about it; if they don’t abuse Museveni, they are talking about America,” he said.
“You should talk about livelihoods; how do you survive? Those who grow maize, who will buy that maize, milk and sugar. Then you will build up public opinion in East Africa which will isolate those who don’t see this, but you don’t talk about it, you talk about other things like European football.”
Regarding land reforms, the President promised that the government is working toward solving the matter.
“The good thing is that we are moving forward and at the right time, we shall deal with the issue of the land. The 1998 Land Act was very strong because it protected the bibanja and when you see people being evicted it is because they don’t know about that land act. We also have the issue of the elite not helping the ordinary people. That is part of the problem, otherwise, the existing law would protect those people,” President Museveni responded to Mr. David Lumu of New Vision.
The President promised to issue an Executive Order to kick the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers out of land matters.
“We have discussed it in the cabinet, they will get out and they should not be part of land matters,” said President Museveni before revealing that the government is also ready to act on the matter of issuance of multiple land titles. Gen. Museveni informed Ms. Dorah Atwongyeire of Next Media.
On the issue of standing for Presidency in 2026, the President said they will discuss the matter at the right time.
“However, the opportunity for transition is always there every five years. But the problem is that the NRM has overperformed and people keep voting it back to power,” he said while responding to a question raised by Ms. Elizabeth Kamurungi of Daily Monitor.
During the same session, Ms. Sarah Kagingo of Soft Power News, raised an issue of the alleged poor roads in Kampala city but the President advised Ugandans that they should handle the issue of the infrastructural development holistically, explaining that most main roads into and through Kampala are in good state apart from some of the branches.
“If we had concentrated on the center and we did not have that penetration, would that be good? Assess the issue of the roads holistically.”
The media interaction session was moderated by the Senior Press Secretary to H.E. the President, Mr. Sandor Walusimbi, and the Deputy Press Secretary to H.E. the President, Mr. Faruk Kirunda.
During the same address, the President also delivered his Christmas message to Ugandans.
“I congratulate everybody for nearly ending 2023, we are remaining with a few days. God should be praised for bringing us this far,” he said.
In the same message, President Museveni addressed the issue of the growing pressure Uganda is getting from outside countries because of the Anti-Homosexuality Act, saying that the country is standing strong, and it will not give in to the desires of the West.
“The pressures we are getting from outside about the homosexuality law, some of the people may be worried but me I’m not worried at all this is because this is an opportunity to clarify one point that Uganda can stand on its own and some of us are indigenous people of this area, this is our area for the last 1,000 years. We have been active here, the Europeans came for a short period and went, our communities are very strong,” he said.
“I’m confident that we shall manage, and you can see our economy is growing, our inflation is one of the lowest now. And I would advise those putting us under pressure to stop because it is not good for them, we shall prove our point that African countries can stand on their own.”
He also urged Ugandans to be vigilant in dealing with the issue of terrorism most especially during this festive season.
“I want to thank H.E Felix Tshisekedi for allowing us to hunt ADF in Congo and we are doing it very well. We are going to wipe out those groups and their leaders who are in Congo who send these young people to come and die here. In the meantime, even during this festive season, I would like you to be on alert because even the border is open; we don’t close it. I discourage the idea of roadblocks because they are blind so somebody from Congo can enter Uganda. What is crucial is the intelligence which we have.”
President Museveni also tasked Ugandans to create wealth through commercial agriculture, specifically, from the four-acre model type of farming.
On the other hand, he rallied Ugandans to join hands in the fight against corruption.
“The corrupt are the few and the majority are the victims so it is easy to isolate the corrupt people and we shall do it. I want everybody to take part in this fight against corruption because it is the one wasting our time,” President Museveni said.
“Finally, we need to emphasize regional integration by linking up and showing other East Africans the win-win of involving in the integration. Everybody should wake up and support regional integration and know it is the correct way.”
The Prime Minister, Rt, also attended the meeting. Hon. Robinah Nabbanja, the Minister of ICT and National Guidance, Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, and the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa.