Uganda suspends 54 NGOs’ operations

UGANDA said on Friday it had suspended the operations of 54 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for a range of reasons including non-compliance with regulations that require them not to be involved in politics.

“We have halted their operations,” Steve Okello, the chairman of the NGO Board, the state-run body that oversees charities in the country, told Reuters.

The NGOs affected include charities whose work defending the rights of political activists among others.

President Yoweri Museveni’s government has been increasing pressure on NGOs, accusing some of them of backing the opposition.

Last December, police detained a government critic and the head of Chapter Four Uganda, one of the NGOs suspended on Friday, on money laundering allegations.

The organisation dismissed the accusations, saying the arrest was part of a crackdown on dissent before elections next month.

The NGO Board said Chapter Four Uganda, and other NGOs which it said it had suspended indefinitely, had failed to file annual returns and audited books of accounts. The NGOs did not immediately comment.

Chapter Four is a civil liberties watchdog that has often helped defend leaders and supporters of opposition parties detained on politically related charges.