By Pascal Kwesiga, Charles Kakamwa and Betty Angatai
PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has said he was surprised to discover some abuses by elements in the National Resistance Army (NRA) that had gone unreported.
“In spite of the general line of the NRA/UPDF of always being on the side of the people, there were incidents in the antiinsurgency campaign for which we are ashamed. I do not know why the people did not report those incidents,” Museveni said speaking at the NRA/NRM 28th Liberation Day anniversary celebrations on Sunday at Mayuge district headquarters.
This was after his observation that the NRM victory in January 1986 was largely because of its correct line of organising the people on a patriotic, non-sectarian basis. He noted that due to the correct line, they were able to build a strong army that won that victory and also contributed to regional peace building efforts.
Museveni, however, hastened to add that apart from the Mukura railway wagon incident and the Bucoro pit incident, which were reported, there were other incidents that are coming to light now.
“These include: the incident at Kanyum where wanainchi were killed by elements of our army for no reason at all after the army had been attacked by the rebels; there were incidents of looting property including cattle; and other incidents of indiscipline reported in Nwoya.
“I am going to follow up all these incidents, unearth the culprits if they are still alive so as to hold them accountable and compensate the victims or their descendants,” he said adding; “it was a mistake for the wanainchi not to report these incidents.”
“It was also a failure of the respective division and brigade commanders not to have discovered these crimes that were committed under their command using, first and foremost, the wanainchi. Where these mistakes were discovered, stern action was carried out.
That is why, since 1986, about 23 soldiers have been executed for homicide, rape, e.t.c. I will personally organise Matoput (Reconciliation programme) with the concerned families and communities."
“I appeal to the people to always report the misbehaviour of the Police or army personnel without any fear,” Museveni said.
UPDF deployment in South Sudan
The President also defended the deployment of UPDF to South Sudan saying this was at the request of the President of the world’s newest nation, General Salva Kiir. He said the UPDF was also sent to South Sudan to stabilise the country and protect Uganda’s economic interests.
“I have heard these useless people asking why Museveni sent troops to South Sudan. What is the problem in sending troops to protect the source of livelihood of Ugandans?” he asked adding, “Do you think the army is supposed to be on parade here? The one who does not understand that should not even be elected to an LCI office.”
He noted that the recent fighting in South Sudan has caused the decline of prices for agricultural and industrial goods.
“While this is good for consumers in Uganda, it is not good for farmers and for the industrialists,” Museveni observed.
Museveni among other issues, spoke about the NAADs programme, saying it is to be reviewed in order to do away with the programme coordinators to save money spent on their salaries.
After delivering his speech and as he went to resume his seat, Museveni returned to the podium saying; “I am told there is a group of people who want to return home. Please let them come,” he said.
The district FDC chairman, Stanley Bayoole, was called to the podium. Museveni sent the crowd laughing when he allowed Bayoole, who also was the former Mayuge town council LCIII chairperson, to briefly speak using the same microphone he was using.
“You want to stand and speak where the President has been standing? Okay, speak to the people,” Museveni remarked, stepping aside for Bayoole.
Bayoole told the President that he would present the defectors to him at a meeting at the President’s country home in Rwakitura.
“I have decided to come home so that we can work together,” he added as the crowd cheered. Seated in the front row in one of the VIP tents at the celebrations was former head of FDC electoral commission, Maj. (rtd) Rubaramira Ruranga, who last year defected to NRM. Donning a UPDF ceremonial uniform, Rubaramira wore a broad smile throughout the function.
100 awarded national medals
A total of 100 personalities received national medals. Most received the Nalubaale medal while others were awarded Golden jubilee independence medal.
Nalubaale medal is awarded to civilian activists who have contributed to the political development of the country either through armed struggle or struggled for independence.
Golden jubilee independence medal is awarded to Ugandans for their outstanding service and loyalty to the country from October 9, 1962 when Uganda won independence to date. A total of 84 personalities were awarded the Nalubaale medal and 11 received the Independence medal.
Gen. Elly Tumwine who read out names of those awarded, explained that the list of people approved under the National Honours and Awards Act, was long but added that others would be announced and decorated on subsequent national celebrations.
Vice-president Edward Ssekandi, Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, East African Secretary General Dr. Richard Sezibera, EALA speaker, Margaret Nantongo and EALA members of parliament attended the ceremony.
It was also attended by Inspector General of Police, Gen. Kale Kayihura and acting Chief Justice, Steven Kavuma.