By Moses Walubiri & Moses Mulondo
Government has forcefully pushed back against demands by legislators to have a commission of inquiry constituted to investigate alleged crimes committed by some reprobate elements in NRA during the protracted anti-insurgency campaign in the north and eastern part of the country.
Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi says existing structures can do the job.
During national celebrations in Mayuge District to mark 28 years since NRM came to power, a contrite President Yoweri Museveni apologized for the “horrendous and shameful crimes” committed in parts of Teso and Acholi sub-region, wondering how many went unreported.
Among the crimes in a rather sordid episode in the anti-insurgency campaign in the late 1980s and early 90s, Museveni admitted, included the infamous Mukura train wagon incident and Bucoro massacre.
In an animated exchange at parliament on Tuesday, MPs Elijah Okupa, Fungaro Kaps, Medard Sseggona and Beatrice Anywar demanded that a commission be set up to investigate the crimes and its report be debated by parliament.
“It is better that the apology be made here in parliament so that it goes on the Hansard,” Okupa said, revealing how he was spared death on the hands of rogue elements in NRA by a friend in the then national army.
However, despite Sseggona decrying what he described as government “trivializing a sensitive issue that has the potential of exploding”, Mbabazi stood his ground, saying “we have established functionality at all levels of government, including UPDF and Police. Anyone with information about these atrocities can report to these state organs.”
A host of politicians, especially those from Acholi have extolled Museveni for his brave act to admit what for long had become a hushed subject, with both Dr. Olara Otunnu and DP’s Norbert Mao urging him to seize the moment and initiate “genuine reconciliation and national healing.”
However, Betty Bigombe – one of the people who were a mainstay in almost all peace initiatives aimed at ending the protracted war that displaced 90% of Acholis – thinks Museveni’s apology, although a good gesture, came a tad too late.
“People wanted to hear this a long time ago,” the State Minister for Water Resources recently said in an interview with Urban TV.