The European parliamentary debate on the chaos that ensued in Arua and the subsequent arrest and alleged torture of suspects, was based on rumors picked from social media, Uganda government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo has said.
The European Union parliament on Friday last week challenged President Yoweri Museveni and his government to respect the independence of the country's parliament as an institution and the independence of the mandate of its members and ensure that all members of parliament freely pursue their elected mandate.
During the debate, the European parliament high representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini said allegations of torture of 33 suspects, referred to as #Arua33 on social media including four members of parliament are serious and perpetrator must be prosecuted.
Mogherini told the European parliament that security forces have a duty to respect human rights and that Ugandans deserve peace and a right to peacefully express their political opinions.
"Let me state once again very clearly that security forces have a duty to respect everyone's freedom to peacefully demonstrate for their opinion. The allegations of torture are serious, and, if confirmed, the perpetrators must be prosecuted and the victims must obtain redress." Mogherini said.
"Uganda, unfortunately has a long history of violence and conflict, and we know very well that its people deserve some peace and the right to demonstrate their opinion. We've made this very clear to the Ugandan government and will continue to engage so that the responsibilities are established and perpetuators are brought to justice"
She added that the European Union representatives in Uganda visited Kyadondo East legislator Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi also known as Bobi Wine during incarceration at Makindye Military barracks and Mityana municipality MP Francis Zaake who was then admitted at Rubaga hospital. She said the EU representatives found that the two legislators had several wounds and needed comprehensive medical treatment.
Today, Opondo told journalists that at long last, the European Union has finally removed all pretense and is now showing which side they support when it comes to Uganda's politics.
"Uganda would like to assume that the EU parliamentarians either acted out of their natural limited knowledge of our country, or picked rumors and unverified information on social media, and, therefore have chosen to remove any veil of pretense about where they stand when it comes to judging various players in the Uganda political scene...They formally and unashamedly warned the Ugandan people and their government; that budget support funds given to the country for development should be used as leverage to monitor whether opposition MPs are being hindered."
In the same 14-point resolution, the EU parliament asked the Ugandan government to "drop what appear to be trumped-up charges against Bobi Wine and to stop the crackdown against opposition politicians and supporters," as well as launching an "effective, impartial and independent investigation into the killing of Yasin Kawuma (Bobi Wine's driver) and the reports of deaths and excessive use of force during the protests."
But Opondo said Uganda hasn't formally received the European parliament resolution. The motion, and subsequent resolution, Opondo argued were "unfair, unsubstantiated and not objective."
He said the European parliament fell below the bar when they failed on the diplomatic front after they failed to formally ask for a response from Uganda before the debate.
"Contrary to well known established diplomatic procedures, the EU parliament in Brussels entertained, discussed a motion and passed a resolution which in our view we deem unfair, unsubstantiated, not objective. To this day as we speak, it has not formally furnished the government of Uganda either through our embassy in Brussels or the ministry of Foreign Affairs who raised those complaints against Uganda and why was it rushed without seeking formal Uganda government response."
Opondo further said the government is dismayed by the MPs' call to drop the charges against those who were arrested in Arua instead of calling for an impartial and speedy hearing.
"It is inconceivable that a parliament in Europe would pass a resolution asking our courts to drop charges instead of calling on the courts of Uganda to be as transparent as possible to do correct investigation and let the course of justice take its course. We see this as premeditated attempt to hijack and subvert our institutions. Could the EU parliament and those who actively promote impunity in other people's nations have some humility in this area especially given the fact that the matters they are discussing are under investigating and some of them are actually before court." Opondo added.
The resolution, Opondo said government believes was debated and passed at the instigation of local and international NGOs as well as some lawyers recently hired in London and Washington. The lawyer that Opondo was referring to is; Robert Amsterdam who ushered Bobi Wine unto the international scene and media. Amsterdam has been calling for sanctions against Uganda's top leaders over torture and abuse of human rights.
Opondo argued that the nature of the debate and final resolution showed glaring signs of active coaching and prepared short notes for the MPs to read.