Government through the East African Affairs ministry has written to the parliament of Kenya demanding that its legislators apologise for allegedly abusing Uganda President Yoweri Museveni.
Last week, some Kenyan MPs threatened to stage demonstrations in Kampala if the Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine was not released within a week’s period. Kyagulanyi was arrested alongside over 33 others on allegations that they had stoned Museveni's convoy. The suspects have since been charged with treason and granted bail.
With allegations of torture of the suspects particularly Kyagulanyi and Mityana MP Francis Zaake, daily demonstrations erupted in Uganda and abroad - with Kenyan youth being very vocal over the issue, arguing that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
Kyagulanyi was initially charged with illegal possession of firearms and ammunition in an Army court in Gulu and remanded to Makindye military barracks in Kampala. The charges against the MP were later dropped but he was subsequently charged in the Magistrate's court with treason.
According to Daily Nation, Kenyan lawmakers including Jared Okelo (Nyando), Babu Owino (Embakasi East) and Gideon Keter (nominated) of the Kenya Young Parliamentarians Association said they would first stage a protest against the arrest and torture of Kyagulanu at the Ugandan embassy in Kenya before escalating it into Uganda.
Now, ruling party lawmakers in Uganda are demanding that action be taken against the Kenyan MPs for what they called meddling into the affairs of a sovereign state.
East African Affairs state minister Julius Maganda Wandera told the parliamentary committee on East African Community Affairs yesterday that 'action' had already been taken against the Kenyan MPs.
Unsatisfied by the minister’s verbal ‘action taken’ statement, Rukiga Woman MP Caroline Kamusiime Muhwezi insisted on knowing what action had been taken against the MPs, whom she said used abusive language to the person of the President of Uganda, which to her was unacceptable.
“After the recent protests, the Kenyans including MPs came out and abused our president but nothing was done by the ministry. They were demanding our president to free Bobi Wine. Free Bobi Wine, as who?” Kamusiime said.
Daily Nation reported that while addressing the press on August 15 at Parliament Building in Nairobi, the lawmakers said they would speak out against abuse of human rights being meted out on Kyagulanyi and others following their arbitrary arrest in Arua.
Maganda said his ministry had through the Uganda parliament speaker Rebecca Kadaga, written to Kenyan parliament over that matter.
The minister concurred with Kamusiime that the reaction that emerged from MPs of Kenya calling for the release of the Ugandan MPs who had been arrested due to the violence in Arua was “more less undermining the position of the President of Uganda when they were using abusive language.”
“We as the ministry have already taken note of the comment which doesn’t sound so well at bi-lateral level where it is supposed to be encouraging Ugandans, Kenyans and East Africans… where we allow each partner state to keep its sovereignty and governance as much as we operate under a treaty for the establishment of the EA community,” Maganda said.
“We have written through the speaker of parliament to address her fellow speaker of Kenya so that they can make these MPs of Kenya to understand the rules of procedure and the diplomatic relationships and the messages that should be done especially when they are meant to address issues that pertain to the [other] state,” Maganda added.
He threatened that if the Kenyan parliament does not take action against the legislators, the ministry would not hesitate reaching Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta for redress.
“And we want a comment to come out officially either to retract that statement of the MPs or to apologise or else we might seek through our embassy to have these matters placed before the president of Kenya. We are not taking this matter lightly as a country and as a ministry. We are taking it as a serious matter,” Maganda said.
Maganda however said the action demanded by the ministry would not negatively affect the two countries’ relationship but there was need for Kenyan MPs to understand diplomacy.
“We want the MPs of Kenya to understand and appreciate that there is a diplomatic way how they should address matters that pertains to a partner state where you don’t have a bigger jurisdiction in their decision making,” Maganda said.
Prior to Arua suspects' release on Monday this week, religious leaders, Buganda kingdom, musicians, opposition leaders and foreign missions had issued strong statements against the torture of the suspects and general brutality of the presidential guards.
The US government in a statement reminded government that all the detained people have a right to humane treatment, due process, access to lawyers and to their families and a prompt and fair trial.
“We urge the government to show the world that Uganda respects its Constitution and the human rights of all its citizens,” the US statement said.
The European Union also weighed in condemning the violence that occurred before and after the by-election.
The European Union urged that the government, political parties and civil society should cooperate to ensure that the events that have caused much suffering to citizens and damaged the global image of Uganda are addressed swiftly and transparently.