FRIDAY NIGHT COVID19 ADDRESS: WHY MUSEVENI MIGHT DECLARE STATE OF EMERGENCY
By Mulengera Reporter
President Yoweri Museveni is expected to make his seventh Coronavirus address to the nation Friday night, just days after he announced a lockdown to prevent further spread of the deadly Coronavirus disease.
Monday night, Museveni announced a 14-day lockdown, including a curfew that starts every 7pm and ends at 6:30am. The president returned the following day to clarify on measures he wanted Ugandans to observe during the two weeks.
But as Mulengera News reported Thursday, the legal basis of the curfew has remained as thorny as the question on the certainty of lifting the lockdown in mid-April. (See: COVID19: INSIDE MUSEVENI HIGH-LEVEL MEETING TO DISCUSS STATE OF EMERGENCY).
Yesterday, when the matter of the State of Emergency and the curfew came up for debate in Parliament, MPs, including Bugiri Municipality’s Asuman Basalirwa, Buliisa’s Stephen Mukitale and Kawempe North’s Latif Ssebagala, urged Museveni to quickly declare a state of emergency.
“Now if anyone is arrested for violating the curfew, what will you charge them with? Under what law will that offence be handled?” wondered Basalirwa, also a lawyer.
He advised government to capture Museveni’s directives, such as the four-metre social distancing rule, into a single statutory instrument or simply declare a state of emergency.
“If government finds it extremely necessary to issue directives as may necessitate, they could declare a state of emergency. These directives are going to cause a lot of legal challenges in the country,” he predicted.
Basalirwa’s colleague Ssebagala even suggested that the only thing the President had to do was to simply accept that his directives had subjected Ugandans to a life with conditions similar to those of a state of emergency.
“We are already in a state of emergency. What is stopping government from coming here and making it formal?” wondered the legislator, currently being criticised for asking government to give MPs money to sensitize constituents on Coronavirus.
For Mukitale, the President should come to Parliament next week and, backed by MPs, declare a state of emergency.
These MPs submissions seemed to buttress Speaker Rebecca Kadaga’s claim that a top minister in the Museveni government had ‘ill-advised’ the president not to declare a state of emergency, but rather rely on the Public Health Act and the Statutory Instruments issued by Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng on March 24.
On Friday, a source at State House Nakasero said the President has, since last week’s high-level meeting on the prickly issue, been pondering on whether to bin his minister’s advice and either bundle his Covid19 orders into a statutory instrument or declare a state of emergency. While the President has been torn between embarrassing his loyal minister and taking the advice of Speaker Kadaga (a vital ally by virtue of her authority as head of the legislative arm of government) and Chief Justice Bart Katureebe, sources said the Commander-in-Chief had made up his mind, and that an announcement on the State of Emergency was on the list of the President’s announcements lined up for 8pm local time in his first address in April 2020.
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