President Yoweri Musevini (right), First Lady Janet Museveni (center), and Queen Elizabeth (left)
Drama ensued during the Commonwealth Summit on Friday as police used batons to beat protestors trying to demonstrate against human rights abuses in Uganda. Protestors complained that police using excessive force against citizens was commonplace. Police said they were acting within the law and the protesters were aware they were not allowed to march out of a suburb where the demonstration was authorized.
Commonwealth’s participants ( Presidents and Prime Ministers of Britain and its former colonies) planned to discuss human rights, democracy, rule of law, climate change, education and trade.
The protesters said the Commonwealth, which began a three-day summit on Friday, had ignored human rights abuses by the government of President Yoweri Museveni. Demonstrators also protested against Queen Elizabeth’s presence at the summit, one waved a banner that said “Queen, you are the head of our problems.”
President Yoweri Museveni has been President of Uganda since 1986 after leading a successful 5 year liberation struggle. He and 26 other young men organized the National Resistance Movement and National Resistance Army (NRM/NRA) to oppose the tyranny of previous regimes. Museveni was one of the leaders involved in the fall of Idi Amin’s regime.
His presidency has been marred, however, by involvement in civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and other Great Lakes region conflicts. Rebellion in the north of Uganda continues to be one of the world's worst humanitarian emergencies. Recent developments, including unlimited Presidential terms before the 2006 elections and the harassment of democratic opposition, have attracted concern from the domestic and international community.