President Yoweri Museveni on Saturday publicly scolded Uganda’s security forces for using excessive violence, as the opposition alleges hundreds of their supporters disappeared or died following a violent election crackdown.
In a televised address, Museveni rebuked the country’s army and police for heavy-handedness for the first time since he was returned to office in January following one of the bloodiest election cycles in Uganda’s recent history.
The veteran president, who was re-elected to a sixth term despite widespread reports of irregularities, blamed “indiscipline” and “laziness” among state forces for incidents that resulted in the death of Ugandans.
“There should be no killing of any Ugandan for any reason other than in war or when condemned by a court,” Museveni said in a wide-ranging national address carried on state television late Saturday.
In November, at least 54 people were shot dead as supporters of Museveni’s main political opponent, the rapper-turned-MP Bobi Wine protested his arrest.
Museveni, who has ruled Uganda without pause since taking power as the head of a rebel army in 1986, said a report was being prepared into the November shootings and it would be made public in time.
He also ordered that criminal suspects not be held for long periods without charge or subject to torture in custody.
Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, came second to Museveni in the January ballot but declared the vote rigged after a campaign in which he was repeatedly detained and his rallies broken up by police.
His opposition party, the National Unity Platform, has alleged that hundreds of their supporters have disappeared since the election, some turning up dead weeks later or showing signs of torture.
In March, Wine was arrested for leading a protest in Kampala demanding the release of his supporters.
That same month, Human Rights Watch called for an end to what it called “ongoing abductions by suspected state agents” of opposition supporters.