Voice of America (Washington, DC)

1 December 2013

Uganda: 'Impeached' Leader of Ugandan Capital Returns to Work

In Uganda, the embattled leader of the capital, Kampala, says he will be back to work on Monday.

His announcement came after a high court struck down his impeachment by the city council, which had voted to remove him from office.

A tribunal report accused Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago of incompetence and abuse of office, among other charges. He was subsequently impeached last Monday after the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) council members voted to remove him from office in spite of a court order.

"We were supposed to be back in the office [last] Friday had it not been for the interception by the police who decided to cordon off my home very early in the morning. Actually the whole day yesterday I was confined to my home, and they could let me [leave]. But, I'm preparing Monday morning to go back," said Lukwago.

Some observers expressed concern that Lukwago's planned trip with his supporters to the office Monday could create violence.

Lukwago said he intends to defy the police as he is accompanied by leading members of the opposition and his supporters.

"I have made arrangements with a number of MPs [Members of Parliament] and civil society leaders. It's not going to be a Lukwago affair because it is a matter of rights now," he said.

Lukwago said the police would be responsible for any violence marking his return.

"If the police do not disrupt our procession, there will definitely not be any breach of public peace," said Lukwago. "So they are squarely responsible for the violence which breaks out when we have such processions. But, this time around, I hope they will behave [and] comply with the dictates of the rule of law and simply provide security rather than stopping us. For us, we are law abiding citizens."

The police have often accused opposition and civil society groups of embarking on protests without a permit, which they said disrupts business activities and brings traffic to a halt. Lukwago disagrees with the police accusations.

"That is a frivolous accusation always leveled against us by the police to curtail our rights [and] our civil liberties," said Lukwago. "I want to assure you and the international community [that] if the police come in with the intention of giving us protection, and to ensure that the procession [is] peaceful, there [will be] no such incident like the disruption of business whatsoever."

A local government and public service committee recently launched an inquiry into alleged mismanagement and in-fighting at the KCCA. The investigation led to the report, which accused Mr. Lukwago of incompetence and abuse of office among other charges. Lukwago denies the accusations as politically motivated by the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party.

Dr. Kizza Besigye, former presidential candidate for the main opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), and Lukwago were detained Tuesday night and charged with inciting violence after attempting to address an "illegal rally." Lukwago returned home after being released from hospital following his release from police custody.

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