By Alan Kamoga
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has warned members of the public against insulting and verbally attacking members of the country’s security forces.
“When we took over power, I told my constituency that no extra judicial killing, no looting, no raping, no corruption/ embezzlement, no provoking people by insulting.
“Among the Banyankole, if you insult me, we fight but according to other cultures, provoking and insulting is free speech. Free speech by insulting me and my mother? I should warn you against attacking the army. They do very complicated work,” Museveni said on Friday.
He was speaking during the official opening of the new law year 2022 at the High Court headquarters in Kampala.
Museveni explained that it is not wise to abuse or insult members of the armed forces, noting that it is a way of provoking them.
“One other thing I must warn you about is attacking the army. That one I must warn you about. In 1986, when we came into government, there was a law which was like fashion in whole of Africa called Preventive of Detention Act.(In the law) the president had power to put you in detention without trial. I never used it, except once. I used it to detain Sera Muwanga who was abusing the NRM and I put him there until it was amended in 1995,”Museveni said.
He warned, “The soldiers are some of the actors who have helped in recovery of Uganda by maintaining peace. They are crucial primary actors. For soldiers to a very difficult work. For you to attack them and think things will be as usual.”
The president’s comments come on the backdrop of the arrest and detention of critical writer, Kakwenza Rukirabashaija for allegedly abusing President Museveni and the Commander of the Land Forces, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba on social media.
Because of his comments on social media, novelist Kakwenza is currently facing charges related to offensive communication in regards the Computer Misuse Act 2011.
Whereas many said Kakwenza did nothing wrong and that he was practicing his freedom of speech, others on the other side insisted that freedom of speech doesn’t mean abusing.
Following Museveni’s comments about abusing army officers, many, especially those with knowledge about happenings in the country say that the remarks were a stern warning to those who are intending to make comments , especially on social media that might be regarded as insults not to dare do it.