The Unites States has piled pressure on the Ugandan government to “respect rights” of politicians and musicians intending to hold assemblies and concerts, saying the freedoms are guaranteed by the Constitution.
“Today we join the many Ugandans asking why their government has recently blocked musical concerts and radio talk shows, disrupted peaceful demonstrations and rallies, and deployed heavy-handed security forces against peaceful citizens,” the U.S. Mission in Kampala said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Uganda’s constitution guarantees freedom of assembly and expression.”
The statement comes high on the heels of police’s decision to block singer Robert Kyagulanyi’s Kyarenga Extra Concert at One Love Beach in Busabala, Wakiso District on Easter Monday.
Police used teargas to disperse supporters of Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine as they tried to force their way to the venue of the event.
The law enforcement body said previous Kyarenga concerts had poor track records characterized by overcrowding, theft and violation of traffic rules “which were not only a breach of law, but also a danger to the revelers and the lives of other members of the community.”
However, Bobi Wine accuses government of trying to cripple his music and political careers by setting tough rules for his musical events.
Bobi says he invested a lot of money to fulfill police’s requirements for the music concert only for the event to be canceled at the 9th hour.
The United States today echoed what it described as “the Ugandan people in calling on the government to respect these rights,” adding, “Strong leaders and states do not stifle speech – they allow their citizens to participate fully and without fear in a vibrant multi-party democracy.”
Gov’t speaks out
In response, government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo said government respects rule of law and constitutionalism which guarantees freedom of assembly expression and movement.
He further said government “expects all leaders to abide by these standards and cooperate with law enforcement officers in the conduct of their activities.”
Opondo argued that save for one artiste, “all artistes in Uganda enjoy freedom of performance and the media platforms are as free. Equally all politicians enjoy free access to these media platforms.”