Plain-clothed security operatives have raided the offices of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party in Kasese town.
According to Kasese FDC district chairperson Saulo Maathe, security officers, about 30 of them, raided the party offices along Alexander Street and started ransacking the premises. Maathe says the security personnel without identifying themselves, started searching the offices and scattered the items therein. He said it was after they saw them in possession of firearms especially pistols that they realised they were security operatives.
He says the security officials confiscated and took with them a series of documents from the office including petition forms to the ICC, party’s minutes for the different meetings, his National ID and his phone. Maathe says they are yet to get information from the office the regional police commander to explain why the party’s offices were raided. He says the raid is an indicator of a continued shrinking space for political parties to execute their duties.
Kasese district chairperson Geoffrey Sibendire Bigogo condemned the raid and said it is suffocation of the development of multi-party democracy in the country. Bigogo argued that the best thing the security would have done if they needed any documents from the FDC would have been to secure a search warrant from court so that they get legal access to the party premises and subsequently all party documents in the office.
"It is really very unfortunate, bad for the democracy of this country that a registered political party can have its offices ransacked and have its documents thrown here and there. If they were any documents that police required, it would have been proper for them to write or at least have a warrant of search. The law is known, if you want a document that is in the premises or anything that is in the premises of somebody, you process a search warrant. But for now they have taken valuable documents, they have taken minutes of the party." said Bigogo.
The district boss said the raid implies that the security agencies want to intimidate FDC supporters ahead of the 2021 general election. He, however, said the party will remain strong and committed to the cause for better governance within the country.
"As Forum for Democratic Change especially Kasese district we have never, and shall never be intimidated. We have seen signs, these are signs that there is a lot of intimidation by the NRM party to have a walkover in the upcoming elections. But I can assure them that we’re ready and we’re going to counter-attack." added Bigogo.
He also added that the ruling government could be scared of the petition recently launched by the former FDC president Dr Kizza Besigye’s Peoples Government. The Peoples Government is in a campaign to solicit for two million signatures from citizens so as to back their petition to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to have President Yoweri Museveni prosecuted for what they call crimes against humanity.
The raid on the office of the FDC in Kasese comes barely two days after the FDC party headquarters at Najjanankumbi were broken into and a number of items including computers and printers were stolen. Last week, the security operatives also raided the officials of the home of Kalyatha Bwambale, a renowned FDC supporter in Kisolholho village of Kitholhu sub county in Kasese.
Rwenzori East regional police commander Vincent Twesige confirmed the raid but declined to comment on the matter.