June 12, 2018 / 11:52 AM / 8 days ago

Uganda's president, police vow crackdown after killing of MP

KAMPALA (Reuters) - Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and the country’s police chief have vowed a crackdown on crime after a ruling-party lawmaker was shot dead last week by men on motorbikes.

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni attends the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and the Government of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia January 28, 2018. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

At the funeral on Monday of MP Ibrahim Abiriga, Museveni said the government would ban motorcycle riders from wearing hooded jackets. The men who shot the lawmaker were wearing hoods.

A spate of high-profile and in some cases fatal kidnappings this year led independent media and civil society groups to say that police were failing in their fundamental duties and suppressing damaging crime data.

In an address at the funeral, the president vowed to defeat criminals. He also took to Twitter to warn Ugandans against “abusing social media and radio to threaten people”.

Museveni, 73, has been in power since 1986. In January he signed a law scrapping an age cap for presidential candidates, a move that critics say will allow him to remain in power indefinitely.

Abiriga, the slain lawmaker, was a vocal supporter in parliament of the law that removed the age cap. Opposition parties, religious leaders, human rights activists and even some members of the ruling party opposed the law.

Rising crime has also eroded people’s faith in a police force that opponents of Museveni have accused of serving him and not the state.

Last year, gunmen on motorbikes killed Uganda’s third- highest-ranking police officer, leading Museveni to order surveillance cameras be installed in towns and on highways.

After facing criticism for failing to solve murders and other crimes, Museveni sacked his security minister and police chief in March [L5N1QN2KH].

Police have also attracted public criticism for their crackdown on opposition activists, often breaking up rallies with teargas, beatings and detentions.

Reporting by Elias Biryabarema, writing by Maggie Fick, editing by Larry King

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