By Agaba Nathan
The President of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has harshly directed the Inspector General of Police, John Martins Okoth Ochola to arrest anyone, including government officials and politicians holding rallies and gatherings in the country.
In the recent days, several politicians and government officials including the Minister for Health, Dr.Jane Ruth Aceng and State Minister in charge of Investment and Privatization, Evelyn Anite have been captured on video with large gatherings.
However, in Museveni’s latest missive, Uganda had contained the war on the virus because majority of the population had followed the guidelines put in place but noted that the situation has changed in the past few weeks.
“Regarding the politicians that have been gathering people contrary to the guidelines, my order to the IGP is now out. No public meetings of any type have been allowed since March except the ones following the guidelines,”Museveni said.
“In the past, the politicians (Aceng, Anite, etc.) were pleading that the people were gathering against their will. The order now is that do not put yourself in a situation where people gather around you. If you do, we shall arrest you.”
The President cited an example when he was stopped on his way to Jinja by locals in Mukono who were in a big number and had no masks.
He noted that he refused to get out of his vehicle to meet them for fear of violating the guidelines against gatherings.
“I refused to get out of my vehicle or even open the roof to greet them. I remained in the car using signs to show them that they must put on masks and observe social distancing until they got the message that what they were doing was dangerous and opened the road. Later, somewhere beyond Katosi, I stopped to use my caravan. Some People gathered. I gave them the same advice.”
Museveni said government officials and politicians should use the same approach so as to help curb the spread of the virus.
He however insisted that government officials or politicians should not make people coming to gather around them as a scapegoat, noting that he has directed police to arrest them.
On several occasions, politicians, especially in the ruling NRM party and government officials have been captured with processions while campaigning or attracting big gatherings but none has been arrested unlike their counterparts in the opposition who have been either dispersed or arrested by police.
This has raised several concerns from members of the public over the double standards by Police in regards to enforcement of the presidential guidelines and Ministry of Health standard operating procedures on prevention of the Coronavirus.
This prompted the ruling NRM Secretary General, Justine Kasule Lumumba to ask police to apprehend anyone involved in flouting Coronavirus guidelines regardless of their political affiliation.
“The guidelines are in place to protect lives of all citizens irrespective of their colour or party,” Lumumba said.
“The DPCs should act because it is their mandate to ensure guidelines are followed by everyone. Arrest anyone breaching the guidelines be it in yellow.”