Uganda’s current political and social stability is not guaranteed in future unless the National Resistance Movement, the ruling party, talks with the Opposition for consensus on contested issues, the Norwegian ambassador to Uganda has said.
According to Ms Susan Eckey, although Uganda has excelled in regional and home security, there is need for dialogue with the Opposition.
“Uganda provides security in the region and is an island in troubled seas. We are grateful for Uganda’s contribution to regional security not least in Somalia. At home and abroad, there is no guarantee that political and social stability will last. Dialogue and consensus are necessary, purely military responses seldom give lasting results,” she said.
Speaking at the joint Nordic National Day celebrations last Friday on the theme, ‘Freedom of expression, a prerequisite for sustainable development,’ Ms Eckey also called for freedom of expression.
She noted that it should not be a surprise that the protection and promotion of human rights is at the core of their countries’ agendas at home, in Uganda and all over the world.
“Sadly, today we see widespread assaults on human rights and journalism across the globe. It is an increasingly dangerous trade,” she added.
She explained that “Freedom of expression is necessary for a public employee to speak up if he/she sees mismanagement”.
Ms Eckey said in spite of the strong constitutional and legal protection provided for freedom of expression in Article 29 in the Constitution which gives clear and unambiguous protection of freedom of expression, the recent developments are cause for concern
“We see in Uganda an active and vibrant media scene, especially in comparison with many other countries of the region. However, since the run-up to the general election in 2016 we have seen increasing limitations on freedom of the press. Media and social media shutdowns, on-going arrests, threats and harassment of journalists and bloggers are very worrying. As a consequence, self-censorship appears to be the order of the day for many,” she said.
“And I must mention our deep concern at the case against Dr Stella Nyanzi. She has strong views and a loud voice, but whether you find her offensive or refreshing, she should be allowed to express herself,” she added.
In response to Ms Eckey, Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa said he was also concerned about Dr Nyanzi’s case.
“But freedoms come with responsibilities. You should not enjoy your freedoms at the expense of others,” Mr Kutesa said.
The Nordic population mainly consists Scandinavian countries including Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden and the associated territories of Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and the Åland Islands.
There have been similar calls from the European Union and the Opposition for political dialogue with President Museveni.