23 April 2014

Uganda: Capital City Official Unhappy With Prolonged Court Battle

The Lord Mayor of Uganda's capital, Kampala, says the prolonged litigation battle with President Yoweri Museveni's government over his controversial impeachment has taken a negative toll on his finances, his family's health and plunged his political future into disarray.

Erias Lukwago, an avowed critic of Mr. Museveni, says it appears the administration planned to prevent him from running the city after he was elected into office from an opposition party.

Since November last year, Lukwago has been prevented from entering his office except for a brief appearance after a court threw out his impeachment. He was, however, removed from office again hours after returning following another court ruling that allowed the police to remove him from the office.

"It would appear government is ready and in for a long haul, which is likely to take almost the entire tenure of my office. The ramification is that they are incapacitating me, they are blocking me from executing my duties," said Lukwago.

"[They are] engaging me in a battle that is taking its toll on me, [and] costing me heavily. My mother is down with hypertension, and even my father is not feeling well," said Lukwago. "Time and again they turn on the TV and radio and they listen to funny stories... all these sorts of things are making it extremely difficult for me to live a normal life."

His comments come as the Supreme Court plans to hear a case against Lukwago on Thursday challenging a recent court decision that threw out his impeachment by members of the Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA).

"I took that course of litigation to ensure that justice prevails, [but] government has not respected that process. Because, right now I should be in office because a court declared my impeachment null and void that has never been set aside by any superior court," said Lukwago.

A tribunal report accused Lukwago of incompetence and abuse of office, among other charges. Lukwago denied the charges, but he was subsequently impeached after the KCCA council members voted to remove him from office in spite of a court order.

Lukwago says he is prepared to work with his opponents to improve the lives of all Kampala residents irrespective of their political affiliation. He says he went to court because the government refused to compromise and enable him to run the affairs of the city.

"It has never been my wish to take the course of litigation to address the crisis we are facing. I had no choice, I was pushed against the wall," said Lukwago. "The government seems not to be ready for an amicable settlement of this impasse we are facing. This is largely because... President Museveni thinks he is the Alpha and Omega of everything. He doesn't believe in a shared vision."

The government has often accused Lukwago and other opposition leaders of organizing illegal, violent demonstrations by refusing to adhere to stipulations required to carry out protests in Kampala and other parts of the country. Officials also say the protests are aimed at destabilizing the country by creating chaos and violence to force a regime change.

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