The Monitor (Kampala)

24 December 2004

Uganda: NGO Boss Claims Intimidation

Kampala — The Executive Director of Vision Terudo, a relief non-governmental organisation based in northern Uganda, is claiming intimidation and the government intentions to brand him a rebel sympathiser.

Mr Winston Churchill Ongole told journalists at a news conference on Wednesday that since October 19, people claiming to be security operatives and Movement cadres have been approaching him saying they had evidence that he was a rebel sympathiser.

"They tell me that they saw my name in the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) register and that they have information that I am recruiting people for some rebel group based in Kumi. They demand that I go to State House or the Movement Secretariat to clear my name and that of the organisation," he narrated.

The Movement Director of Information, Mr Ofwono Opondo, yesterday told The Monitor that he had learnt of the case, but the Movement Secretariat had never sent anybody to intimidate any opposition politician.

"We get our members through persuasion, and I am urging Ongole to come to the Movement Secretariat or call me directly incase he is attacked again," Opondo said.

Ongole, who spoke from the Kasozi, Omongole & Co. Advocates chambers at Greenland Towers in Kampala, said some Internal Security Organisation woman operative called Ms Florence Acam told him about the analysed information gathered about him.

"She told me that her findings are that I support a rebel movement to fight against the government of Uganda and that my cousins who joined this rebel group, living in Katakwi district get financial support from me to advance the course of their struggles," Ongole said.

He says he has since reported the matters to the Police and instructed his lawyer, Mr Richard Omongole and the Terudo legal Adviser, Mr Kenneth Omoding, to take steps. "I told them that Vision TERUDO is a non-partisan Organisation and therefore cannot use either its resources or staff for political activities," he said.

"But given the rate at which opposition people are being arrested and taken to court over PRA (People's Redemption Army), you cannot be sure of what is going to happen for you tomorrow," he said.

The Movement Director of Information, Mr Ofwono Opondo yesterday told The Monitor that he had learnt of the case, but that the Movement Secretariat has never sent anybody to intimidate any opposition politician.

"It is not our policy to intimidate the opposition in order to win their support. We get our members through persuasion, and I am urging Mr Ongole to come to the Movement Secretariat or call me directly incase he is attacked again so that we can deal with those outlaws," Opondo said.

The lawyer, Mr Omongole, said that, "those were actions of overzealous security operatives who are Movement sympathizers. My client is a free citizen to support any political side of his choice," he said.

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