STATEMENT OF THE PEOPLE OF WEST NILE ON EVENTS THAT HAPPENED BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER THE ARUA MUNICIPALITY BY-ELECTION
We, the Sons and Daughters of West Nile, under the umbrella of West Nile Initiative for Social and Economic Development (WISED), wish to add our voice to condemning the unfortunate events that happened before, during and after the recently concluded Arua Municipality by-election.
We unreservedly condemn; the loss of life, arrest, torture and continued unlawful detention of some of the people of Arua and leaders from across the country. We are appalled by reports suggesting that the events of 13th August, 2018 were caused by the violent and unruly nature of the people of Arua and West Nile in general which insinuations we reject in totality. We maintain that the people of Arua are not to blame for the lawlessness that ensued in Arua on 13th August 2018.
We are also concerned about the deliberate destruction of property of our local investors, especially the Proprietor of Pacific Hotel, whose property was vandalized by security personnel.
The image of Arua and West Nile in general, has been tainted by the unfortunate events of August 13, 2018 and it is our duty as sons and daughters of the region to set the record straight.
We, therefore, wish to state the following:
The people of West Nile are peace-loving, hospitable, accommodative, and welcoming as clearly evidenced by the fact that our region today is host to the largest number of refugees on the African Continent, and only second in the whole world.
Perhaps more than any other region in Uganda, the people of West Nile are very conscious of their history. We are aware that, because of political violence, many sons and daughters, for many years, lived in exile and were subjected to untold suffering. We cannot, therefore, be the ones to plan for acts that have potential to create more violence for our people
The entire election process, from nominations, through the weeks of campaigns, until the unfortunate events of Monday 13th August 2018 were very peaceful, a testimony that the Electoral Commission is aware of.
All the 12 candidates who participated in the election, regardless of their political party affiliations, cooperated with each other until the last day of campaigns. The candidates’ debate that took place at Heritage Courts, and aired live on all regional radio stations, was evidence of this.
We unreservedly condemn all the acts of violence that ensued on Monday 13th August 2018. We condemn the arrest and continued detention of the MP elect of Arua Municipality Hon, Kassiano Ezati Wadri. We condemn in the strongest terms the arrest, torture and detention of our people and other national leaders.
We condemn the harassment, arrest and torture of journalists.
Therefore, we appeal to the Government to:
Immediately release the MP elect, Hon Kassiono Wadri so that he is sworn in and commences his work to represent the People of Arua Municipality.
Release all people who were arrested including MPs who actively participated in promoting democracy and constitutionalism in our land, but unfortunately became targets of unnecessary violence, including arrests.
Fully investigate the, actions in total disregard of the law and immediately bring to book those found culpable.
Allow the injured persons both in prison and outside prison to access medical care from the doctors of their choice and also cater for their medical bills, since they got injured during the cause of promoting democracy.
Investigate the activities of Bryan Kirumira aka Bryan White prior to the election. We have seen evidence of videos circulating in public where the said Bryan White is recorded a week to election meeting and distributing free cash to several youth groups in Arua and urging them to be ready to attack, fight and chase away some leaders who were set to go and campaign in Arua.
To stand by its promise of constitutionalism and respect Articles 23 and 28 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda which provide for a speedy and fair trial before a court of competent jurisdiction. All those being held are civilians who, we think, must be prosecuted before proper civilian courts.
Compensate for the loss of innocent lives at the hands of security personnel.
Conclude the investigations of the assassination of late Member of Parliament for Arua Municipality and bring to book those responsible for his death. .
In conclusion, we wish to state categorically that we stand in solidarity with all peace-loving and democracy building Ugandans especially those from outside West Nile, who came to Arua to promote democracy and constitutionalism. Our sympathies are with the bereaved families and may the Almighty God rest the souls of the deceased in eternal peace.
It should not be lost in anybody’s memory that the people of West Nile played a pivotal role in the liberation of this country. As most of you might be aware, some gallant sons and daughters from West Nile picked up arms and participated in the processes of ending bad leadership. Some of the examples include fighting groups like the Uganda National Rescue Front (UNRF) that later joined hands with the NRA in the liberation struggle. As people of West Nile, we only choose the constitutional path of bringing peace and security that will enhance development in our part of the country. And our people should be given the liberty to do so.
For God and Our Country