MPUUGA: NUP HASN’T FORGOTTEN JAILED MPS, ACTIVISTS
By Joel Mugabi
Leader of Opposition in Parliament Mathias Mpuuga has defended National Unity Platform (NUP), the country’s main opposition political party, against allegations that its leadership and MPs had betrayed their jailed colleagues Muhammad Ssegirinya of Kawempe North and Allan Ssewanyana of Makindye West as well as other activists.
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In a handwritten letter purportedly written by Ssegirinya and Ssewanyana, the incarcerated youthful legislators had blamed their colleagues for not doing enough to pile pressure on the state to release them from detention.
For months now, the two NUP legislators have remained in detention over charges of attempted murder, murder and terrorism related to a spate of killings that shock the Greater Masaka area districts last year. Their continued detention also happened at a time President Museveni intensified his push for the ban of bail for suspected capital offenders.
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In the said letter, Ssegirinya and Ssewanyana say it “beats our understanding” that the only action NUP MPs took since their arrest was walking out of Parliament and moving a motion on the state of their arrest. They are concerned that the kind of solidarity and action exhibited in the walkout and motion in parliament have decreased “with the more days we continue being under incarceration.” That they think they are “now less valued in the party and in your [NUP MPs’] presence” since legislators out of prison walls have stopped piling pressure on Museveni’s government to ensure that they are released.
Swearing that they never committed the crimes they are being accused of, the two legislators warned their colleagues at the Kamwokya-based party that some of them may soon find themselves in the same situation, and that they too might have nobody to be their voice outside the prison cells.
But after visiting the legislators at Kigo Prison on Thursday, LoP Mpuuga, also the Nyendo-Mukungwe MP, dismissed the handwritten letter, saying it did not reflect how Ssegirinya felt about the manner in which NUP has handled their court case. It should be remembered that NUP and opposition lawyers such as Shamim Malende (Kampala Woman MP) and Erias Lukwago (Kampala Lord Mayor – FDC) have been the ones handling the detained legislators’ court cases in the past five months.
“They have expressed gratitude to the leadership of NUP for doing everything feasible under the circumstances to fight for their freedom,” said Mpuuga, insisting that those behind the letter were propagandists seeking to soil the image of the party and its MPs.
“We have discussed some of the over-bearing challenges. I will share with colleagues so that we can find a way of ensuring that their situation is better but most importantly, to demand that their freedom is restored.” (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994 [whatsapp line], 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org).