Memorial Dialogue for Uganda’s first Prime Minister – Benedicto Kiwanuka

Foundation for African Development (FAD) has held a memorial dialogue for the late Ben Kiwanuka, the founding president of the Democratic Party and Uganda’s first Prime minister. This took place on September 28th at Hotel African in Kampala.

Ben Kiwanuka who also served as Chief Judge under the Idi Amin regime is acknowledged as a statesman who selflessly promoted democracy and justice in Uganda. For this he was murdered by the Idi Aim regime in 1972. FAD organises on an annual basis a lecture in memory of the late Kiwana with an aim of mobilising key governance actors to emulate Kiwanuka’s example in promoting human rights, justice and democracy in Uganda.

The theme for this years’ dialogue focussed on the proposed constitutional amendment to deny bail to certain categories of suspects and its implication to the fundamental rights to liberty and presumption of innocence. Several critics view this proposal as a violation of people’s rights and freedoms, and a disregard to constitutionalism and rule of law in Uganda.

The participants in the dialogue included Political party leaders, civil society activists, representatives of human rights bodies, academicians and the media.

The discussion was guided by presentations from three panellists led by Democratic Party President Norbert Mao. This was followed by a preview of Ben Kiwanuka’s life by the former Democratic Party President, Dr. Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere. He commended the Late Ben Kiwanuka for his outstanding character and devotion to democratic values and principles, and urged participants to guard against actions that would lead to the abuse and violation of other peoples’ rights.

Participants suggested that a publication of their views and those of the panellists be shared with the various stake holders inclduing the members of parliament so that their views reach a bigger audience. It was also agreed that a monitoring tool be developed to identify members of parliament who support the proposed constitutional amendment to deny bail to certain categories of suspects and vote them out of parliament.

Ben Kiwanuka