A report by Flattau Associates LLC a private firm, that focuses on coupling contemporary social science research with the latest advances in information technology in order to provide new solutions for governance assessment states that democracy in Uganda has “declined to slightly worse than moderate levels” in the past few months.
The report notes that while Mr Museveni remains credited with bringing economic and political stability to Uganda and fostering efforts to combat HIV/Aids since 1986, “many critics, however, cite Museveni administration’s continued repression of freedom in the country in an attempt to consolidate power.” “For all intents and purposes, the President has succeeded in this endeavour,” reads the report in a part.
Rating Uganda’s overall strength of democracy on a 0 to 10 scale—with 0 representing weak, 5 representing moderate, and 10 representing strong, the Democracy Monitor Quarterly report hands Uganda a 4.1 score. Continued repression of freedoms in the country in an attempt to consolidate power by President Museveni ‘s administration is what has been cited by the US consultancy to conclude that the strength of democracy in Uganda is on the decline.
Museveni suppress Opposition
The report states that in the past two years, Uganda’s opposition have had no ability to form, operate, and participate in government processes without interference from Mr Museveni and the entities that he has control over like security forces and party members.
“One key event which illustrates the on-going repression of opposition groups occurred when police arrested at least four opposition activists, including Forum for Democratic Change Women League head Ingrid Turinawe, and had them charged with treason, a capital offence punishable by death,” said the report. Ms Turinawe and her co-accused are on bail pending trial.
The report adds that freedom of assembly, access to information, media independence and freedom “all declined to worse than moderate levels” between October 1 and December 31, 2011.
The report comes at a time when government has declined to admit a UN envoy on freedom of expression to the country and assess human rights. “The problem is that the invitation is open ended in that whenever the [UN] Special Rapporteur feels like visiting the country will do so at his/her wish.
We cannot allow this because it would be like a house without a door,” Ambassador David Etuket, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official, is quoted as having told local press freedom defenders, HRNJ, in a statement issued on Tuesday. Several human rights organisations and journalists in Uganda have repeatedly asked the UN to dispatch its envoy to visit the country due to the shrinking space of their operating environment.
The findings also follow recent demands by the police to have Parliament expedite enactment of the Public Order Management Bill 2011, which seeks to maintain and protect public order.
The report faults Mr Museveni for his handling of the inquiry into oil contracts with private firms, a matter that has placed the Executive and Legislature at crossroads after the former disregarded the latter’s orders to stay any further dealings until laws that govern the sector are set.