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The ruling NRM caucus has set up a six-member team to examine President Museveni’s idea of amending the Constitution to deny bail to suspects of economic sabotage, murder, rioting and hostile media, among others.

It is the first time that Museveni and his party have met formally to discuss an antidote to the nagging opposition whose face is Dr Kizza Besigye. The leader of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), like many of his supporters, has been arrested three times in the past month on charges of unlawful assembly, disobeying lawful orders and obstructing traffic. On all three occasions, he has been released on court bail.

But President Museveni has been vocal in his rejection of bail for a certain category of suspects. Initially, it was murder and treason, but in light of the walk-to-work protests, he has added rioting and economic sabotage to the offences where bail should be denied.

The team, according to a source that attended the seven-hour meeting at State House Entebbe on Friday night, comprises Security minister and NRM secretary general, Amama Mbabazi; the Attorney General, Khiddu Makubuya; Local Government minister, Adolf Mwesige; and MPs Jacob Oulanyah (Omoro county), Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa West), and Elizabeth Kalungi (Woman, Kanungu).

The team’s task is to look at how to amend the Constitution and include the clauses that Museveni is keen on. The committee was set up after members failed to agree on whether or not a constitutional amendment is in order.

The President feels that people who participate in demonstrations are economic saboteurs because they paralyse business. He is also angry with the media coverage of the protests, calling it unbalanced.

Besigye, who was badly injured during his latest, much publicised, arrest in which he was sprayed with pepper before being bundled onto a police pickup truck, has vowed to continue with the protest, a move that will expose him to violation of the new, more serious legal regime if Museveni gets his way.

“When I see the reporting in papers, radios or television, the reporting is malicious or wrong. I advise you to stop this because this country belongs to Ugandans, not institutions or radios,” Museveni recently told journalists at his home in Rwakitura.

“I will put before the incoming Parliament an amendment to the Constitution prohibiting bail for the following cases: murder, treason, rape, defilement, child sacrifice, rioting and economic sabotage, except if the six months are exceeded. I will also seek to put in the Penal Code a section on economic sabotage.”

We have been told that those in favour of amending Article 23 were mostly the new, young MPs, apparently too eager to impress Museveni.

“They were elected in February and the first thing they do as MPs is to come to State House to meet the President. Some of them were falling over themselves because the President mentioned them by name,” one NRM caucus member told The Observer on condition of anonymity.

We have further been told that lawyers like Mbabazi and Oulanyah supported the President’s proposal. Oulanyah was chairman of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee in the 7th Parliament, which orchestrated the constitutional amendment to lift term limits.

“We told them that the laws you make today may turn out to be monsters tomorrow. None of us here is immune to them. We need to think hard about it,” the source said.

Article 23 states that nobody shall be deprived of personal liberty, except in specific legal circumstances. Although bail is a court matter and is at its discretion, the Constitution, under Article 28(3), states that every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until proven guilty or until that person has pleaded guilty.

Also, the freedoms to associate, assemble and demonstrate peacefully are civil liberties spelt out, not only in Uganda’s constitution, but also in international instruments to which Uganda is a signatory. Some members of the NRM caucus are concerned that a constitutional amendment will affect these liberties.

Those opposed to the amendment, the source said, would prefer that the Attorney General comes up with a new Public Order Management Bill instead of tinkering with the Constitution and risking opening a Pandora’s box.

Contacted for a comment, Prof Fredrick Jjuuko, a human rights lawyer who lectures at Makerere University, expressed reservations about the planned amendment, saying it is politically motivated.

Referring to the presumption of innocence, Jjuuko said whoever alleges must prove, adding that one should be free from incarceration while appearing in court because one is still presumed to be innocent.

“They can go ahead and make the law but it will be unconstitutional to the extent that it doesn’t take care of those concerns,” he cautioned.

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Comments

 
0 #1 ronie 2011-05-15 19:27
In the face of ugandans, the dictator is not a shamed of changing the constitution just to his own gains shame on him !!!!
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0 #2 DD 2011-05-15 21:36
How dare you !
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0 #3 Jim Kamezza 2011-05-16 01:56
m7 is now instructing his bogus MPs to pass through Bills that favour him and his relatives forgetting about Ugandans , Ugandans are going to be slaves in their land because their MPs are bought and manipulated
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0 #4 Apollo 2011-05-16 04:22
Looks familiar, doesn't it? 'http://africanhistory.about.com/cs/apartheidlaws/g/No83of67.htm'

First they legislated a 90-day (General Law Amendment Act No 37 of 1963)then amended it to 180-days like M7 (Criminal Procedure Amendment Act No 96 of 1965) before finally removing any limits (Terrorism Act No 83 of 1967).

It still did not break the spirit of freedom of the South African people. Our sworn pan-africanist can be such an excellent admirer and student of Apartheid methods. Interesting.
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0 #5 Biryabarema Nelson 2011-05-16 05:23
In the Shakespeare book, Julius Caesar...he says that the evil that man does liveth after him...I lost a brother in the NRA guerilla warfare in Luwero, embraced the NRA/M suceess when in 1986 captured power from the infamous regime of UPC, and have been an ardent supporter of Museveni, but I have been disllusioned by the political actions of him as the President of Uganda.

My call to him is to follow the dictates of the former 10 points program drawn out for his leadership, which he has failed to live up to, and if he were me, I would not wait for a day longer in the illegitimacy of my presidence as the majority of the people of Uganda NO longer like him, because he has perfomed worse than Obote 11 and Amin, put together.

May be his departure now would appease the irate Ugandans so that the next leader draws a programme to reconcile our diverse communities which are hell bent to revenge against some tribe in future.
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0 #6 Ndiwulila 2011-05-16 06:30
I hope Economic Sabotage also refers to vices such a corruption. Casting the net wider aren't we!!
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0 #7 2011 2011-05-16 09:08
Mr Museveni should realize that there is no smoke without a fire, there must be a worthwhile cause that warrants giving away life.

These violence is a result of overstaying in power, corruption and dictatorship, among other things. he should first and foremost move to restore term limits in the constitution among other things, otherwise this move by Museveni can be seen as an act of provocation of Ugandans.

I do not know why Museveni seems so keen to slaughter Ugandans on the streets. This is sadism,reminds me of Roman gladiators.
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0 #8 Ndiwulila 2011-05-16 09:34
I hope and pray that Economic Sabotage includes Corruption and misuse of Public Funds. Casting the Net wider hey?
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0 #9 Muwanguzi G.K 2011-05-16 11:12
This is a golden opportunity ,Federo too can be included after all the constitution going to be amended !!
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0 #10 Bajja Genda 2011-05-16 11:58
When Museveni talks about Uganda being for Ugandans, who does he mean by "Ugandans"? We as "Ugandans" have for example, not been consulted about the amendments to the constitution he is talking about!!!

When he amends the constitution/penal code, note that he says "I will..., I will..."; When he talks about reporting being malicious or wrong, whose opinion besides his own has he considered?

The message he is communicating to MPs, is actually meant for him, funny that a "leader" fails to realize simple stuff like this! Unless of course, he really is not a leader, but a dictator.

To quote his own words, "Ugandans are now politically mature". Again, he fails to realize that his message is actually meant for him!!!!

May God help him, and this beloved Country Uganda.
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0 #11 Aroni webale 2011-05-16 12:14
RESCUE AND EVACUATION REQUIRED
With the way security conducts its operations, many people will innocently end in prison.

Imagine shooting yound children and pregnant women, elderly persons: all these will crowd the prisons, let alone security breaking into your house and talking yourself, wife, children and maid as demonstrators.

They seem to be driven by accountability issues than actually getting the 'right'culprits. Oh Uganda, May God uphold thee!!!!
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0 #12 wodgot 2011-05-16 12:21
The power to ammend the Constitution must come from the very people who are affected by it. President Museveni is not the people.

His view to ammend article 23 of the Constitution doesn't reflect the view of the majority who were consulted during the making of this supreme law of the country.
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People like Jacob and Nyombi are misleading Ugandans for their own personal gains.Some of them are compromising their hard earned professional integrity for short-lived political posts.The British law says,' a suspect is innocent until proven guilty'.Which law are you applying in denying suspects bails?
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0 #13 Stephen Kakooza 2011-05-16 13:18
It is easy to steal but very difficult to do all the time without being checked and Museveni should know that what he is doing Amin and Obote tried them and failed. You can even rule without a constition but your day MUST COME
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0 #14 kizito 2011-05-16 21:08
m7 makes me sick.The man is crazy and a shame to Uganda!
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0 #15 naki 2011-05-16 21:49
Only in Uganda! Naye banange why do we keep walking backwards! You look at constitutions of big democracies and they never change them to suit their leaders' agendas!!Woe to our motherland!!!

How about amending the constitution to change back to the maximum terms (2) a president can serve!!!
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0 #16 Rebecca 2011-05-17 00:51
I wonder why you even bother yourself with the constitution just rule my brother go a head and do any sort of nonsense you may think of BUT remember God will pay you back handsomely.

I know now you are laughing because I mentioned the punishment from God, BUT soon or later these punishments will descend on you and your family Museveni.
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0 #17 ronie 2011-05-17 02:52
Really, its absurd up to now m7 hasnt seen that the wind of change is knocking at his door !whether he likes it or not he has only one year to go. this is my prediction and even can be less than one year in office.
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0 #18 learn 2011-05-17 03:32
If top leaders in the army dont come out to oppose this despotic bill, one day it will get them hands down. I say army leaders because uganda is a military state, quoating from musevenis words 'civilians are mere allies'.
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0 #19 Donn joseph Mukasa 2011-05-17 16:28
M7 wasted the last 5years on trying to destoy Buganda now the direction for the 5years is set on destroying the opposition and in this i'm not a prophet but Besigye would be killed "Kazini" style since it has been alleged a major was at his home taking photos of his house remember how Dr.Andrew kayiira was killed."Besigye watch your back"
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0 #20 ronie 2011-05-17 19:43
Dr Besigye is among the nominese of peace nobel prize of this year.the dictator will kill himself. this is an impecable information from our ecco invesigators operating from europe.
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