Inside govt, opposition joint security meet on abductions
Top leaders in government and the Opposition read from different scripts in the aftermath of a heated high-level meeting convened at Parliament yesterday about the persistent abductions and missing persons in the country.
The meeting was chaired by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Thomas Tayebwa.
In an interview with nara fm after the meeting, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja said a section of the missing persons were “hardcore criminals” some of whom have since been charged in the courts of law.
“There are those we have identified and there are those we have not yet identified because they didn’t give us details of those people,” Ms Nabbanja stated.
She, however, declined to share details of charges preferred against the said criminals.
“I believe [that] the meeting has been cordial and a number of issues have come up and we are going to handle them one by one. There are several discoveries that we have made [but] our brothers in the Opposition failed to give us photos, locations and next of kin of these people,” Ms Nabbanja said.
Parliament Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa listens to submissions by opposition members (not in picture) during a January 31, 2023 meeting between government and opposition members regarding missing Ugandans allegedly kidnapped by security operatives. PHOTO/DAVID LUBOWA
However, the Opposition Chief Whip, Mr John Baptist Nambeshe, said: “That is where the prime minister goes wrong. You cannot pass judgement before trial. Even if someone is a suspected terrorist, that person remains innocent [until proven by court].”
Addressing the House yesterday, Mr Tayebwa said the meeting was organised in regard to the issues that were raised by the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Mr Mathias Mpuuga, on the alleged abductions of Ugandans last week.
“All efforts are being made to solve this issue amicably and a report of our discussion will be tabled on Thursday this week,” Mr Tayebwa said.
The meeting was attended by Security Minister Gen Jim Muhwezi, Government Chief Whip Denis Hamson Obua, Minister for ICT Chris Baryomunsi, Attorney General, Kiryowa Kiwanuka, State minister for Internal Affairs David Muhoozi and State minister for Defence Jacob Oboth-Oboth.
Other are Deputy Inspector General of Police Katsigazi Tumusiime, and Assistant IGP Christopher Damulira.
The Opposition team was led by Mr Mpuuga, Mr Nambeshe, Mr Muwanga Kivumbi (shadow Finance), Mr Abdallah Kiwanuka (Shadow Defence) among others.
While addressing the media, Mr Mpuuga revealed that the government only availed a list of five missing persons as opposed to the 25 members that Opposition tabled. The five include Ivan Ddamulira Kaweesa, Saul Kuteesa, Vincent Ssembatya, Peter Mugabi Ssengendo, and Hussein Kato.
He, however, insisted that the Opposition would continue pressuring the government to account for the other missing persons believed to have been abducted by state security operatives.
“We continued to state that they have a duty to account for every citizen including those they have claimed that have fled the country because one of the claims is that some of them have fled the country. So we have advised them that it is their duty to account,” Mr Mpuuga said, adding, “Let them give us a list of those who fled the country and the countries to which they fled.”
Mr Nambeshe said: “We have left it to government to get back to us. They requested us to accord them time to come up with a comprehensive report on the whereabouts of those they claim are under the detention facilities.”
In the event that the government failed to table a report tomorrow or in case the tabled version deviated from what was discussed in the meeting, Mr Mpuuga threatened that his office would table a ‘shadow’ report speaking to the same.
“There is no good will and I have put it to them clearly that the abductions are part of their attempt to settle an outstanding political question in Uganda and it will not be possible to be settled that way,” Mr Mpuuga said.
He added: “So we shall wait for their statement, the report on what we have discussed and if they don’t report the way issues have transpired, we shall give an alternative report. I have warned them in advanced, including their commitment to produce these citizens, account for them. Accountability includes showing us their graves.”
On Thursday last week, the Deputy Speaker Tayebwa committed that Ms Nabbanja would lead a government team to meet the Opposition to amicably settle the persistent question surrounding the missing persons in the country.
The meeting followed the postponement of a similar meeting in October last year.
This was the second time that such a meeting had failed to take place.
Last week, Mr Mpuuga accused Mr Tayebwa of snubbing the October meeting and demanded to know the whereabouts of 18 of the missing persons after the Uganda Humans Rights Commission (UHRC) established the whereabouts of only seven of them.
Mr Tayebwa then scheduled yesterday’s meeting.
The meeting resolved that a comprehensive report on the missing persons and abductions would be tabled tomorrow.