Ugandan politician and entertainer, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, known by the stage name Bobi Wine, has been invited to discuss in a session of the United Kingdom Parliament that will debate the declining state of democracy in Uganda on Tuesday January 8, 2019.
The lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, the House of Commons has indicated that democracy in Uganda is a key issue to be discussed in the session.
“We will be debating democracy in Uganda and I will be leading the debate and the minister for Africa will be responding,” said Paul Williams, Member of Parliament for Stockton South, who spoke to Uganda’s Daily Monitor. “I want to see a strong and prosperous, independent Uganda with strong democratic institutions, I am interested in the future of Uganda. In Bobi Wine, I see a person who has a good understanding of poverty, inequality and he has a good vision for the future.”
On December 3, 2018, the motion was tabled and a total of 20 UK Members of Parliament signed to support the motion, including seven people from the Scottish National Party, eight from the Labour Party, three independents, one Conservative, and one person from Democratic Unionist Party.
The MPs have asked UK Prime Minister Theresa May to use her influence/government and also consult the European Union, United Nations, the Commonwealth and other transnational bodies to put in place initiatives that will promote democracy in Uganda. Meanwhile, Paul Williams also requested that the parliament condemn the arrest and torture of Ugandan legislators and politicians.
“That this House condemns the arrest and subsequent torture of Members of the Ugandan Parliament, Robert Kyagulanyi, Paul Mwiru, Francis Zaake, Gerald Karuhanga, and Kassiano Wadri, believing that arrest and the use of torture against elected legislators have no place in a democratic country,” the Parliament website stated.
Last year, when Bobi Wine was arrested and jailed for treason while he was campaigning for an opposition candidate in the country’s by-election, a petition was put up on the U.K. parliament website saying, “We are worried he will not be given a fair trial. The UK Government should do all it can to help ensure that Robert Ssetamu Kyagulanyi and his comrades are given a fair trial.”
President Museveni has been accused of being a dictator who infringes on Ugandans’ fundamental rights, especially those that have been expressive or are considered threats to his government, the most popular being the jailing of an academic at Makerere University, Stella Nyanzi and arrest and torturing of Robert Kyagulanyi.
According to Paul Williams, the “U.K. has a legitimate interest as a friend and partner. We see attacks on politicians, we see the military moving to arrest and torture democratically elected politicians, that is something many countries around the world are concerned about.” He added that “what we want to see is a strong Uganda but what we see at the moment is a strong President who is retaining power for himself, reducing the power of the people. We want a strong democracy, but I am not endorsing one person or the other.”
Reacting to this, Uganda’s ruling party insists that there is no such thing as abuse of democracy in Uganda. The Minister of Information, Frank Tumwebaze, described the debate as political interference and an abuse of democracy.
“Uganda’s democracy is not discussed and debated in London. That can’t be democracy but rather an abuse of real democracy. We got enough of their imported democracy before 1962 and it was up to no good,” Tumwebaze said.
The January 8, 2019 parliamentary debate taking place at Westminster Hall, starts at 16:30 British time and would be discussing three key agendas, including Democracy in Uganda.