Opposition Politicians Challenge A4C Ban

1985 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
On April 4th 2012, Peter Nyombi, the attorney general invoked Section 56 of the Penal Code Act to issue a statutory instrument declaring A4C as “an unlawful society.”

Four opposition politicians have petitioned the constitutional court challenging sections of the penal code used by the Attorney General to ban Activists for Change-A4C. They are Dr Kiiza Besigye, the FDC president, Erias Lukwago, the Kampala Lord Mayor, Ingrid Turinawe, the chairperson of the FDC Women league and Kampala Woman MP Nabilah Sempala Naggayi. On April 4th 2012, Peter Nyombi, the Attorney General invoked Section 56 of the Penal Code Act to issue a statutory instrument declaring A4C as “an unlawful society.”

Nyombi also banned the activities of the group and any other group that would be formed after. Now, the opposition politicians have filed a petition before the constitutional court challenging provisions of the law that the state relied upon to prefer criminal charges against them and 11 other suspects. The politicians are facing charges of managing an unlawful assembly that led to the murder of John Michael Ariong, an Assistant Superintendent of Police.

In a sworn affidavit Kiiza Besigye contends that, the provisions that the attorney general relied upon to declare A4C unlawful society are unconstitutional and repugnant to the freedom, democracy, good governance and the rule of law are not demonstrably justifiable in a free and democratic society. He further contends that according to information availed to him by the former national cordination of A4C Mathias Mpuuga, the Attorney General did not accord them any hearing before declaring A4C an unlawful society, adding that it is clear that the real reason behind his action is political persecution of opposition politicians.

He says that the banning of A4C has had a chilling effect on the people in general as it has led to the restriction of the right to peaceful protests and demonstrations.Through their lawyers; Fredrick Mpanga, Medard Sseggona and Ernest Kalibbala, the four politicians want the constitutional court to declare that the charge of unlawful society which they are facing at Buganda Road Court is inconsistent with the constitution. They also want court to repeal the provisions from the law books of the country. Court is yet to summon the attorney general to file his defense in response to the petition before fixing a hearing date.

Shortly after the 2011 general elections, opposition politicians launched the A4C pressure group to compel government to act on the high inflation rate. The group organized walk to work protests to identify with common Ugandans who were suffering the brunt of the high commodity prices. However, police reacted with excessive force leading to deadly clashes with the protestors in various towns across the country. At least 9 people were killed and property worth unspecified amount of destroyed during the clashes.

 

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