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A People's Army

By Vision Reporter

Added 6th February 2001 03:00 AM

TODAY IS February 6, Tarehe Sita day, the twentieth anniversary of the attack on Kabamba barracks that launched the bush war in 1981.

TODAY IS February 6, Tarehe Sita day, the twentieth anniversary of the attack on Kabamba barracks that launched the bush war in 1981. Over the weekend soldiers of the UPDF were seen clearing up rubbish in Bugolobi and Kisenyi as part of the celebrations to mark Tarehe Sita. Obviously this was a public relations exercise but that does not invalidate it. How many armies in the past history of Uganda would have bothered to hold a public relations event where soldiers cart away piles of rubbish? The mere fact that the UPDF is concerned about public relations shows that it is indeed a people's army. Campaigning for the presidential elections is well underway. There have been allegations and counter-allegations of harassment and political intimidation but in general it is remarkable how free and open the campaigns have been so far. It is to the credit of the army that this is possible. It is very easy to forget how lawless and dangerous Uganda was until 1986. Tens of thousands of people were murdered in the 20 years before then because of the political threat they posed. The NRA and its successor the UPDF have created the conditions that have made free and fair elections possible in Uganda. We should never forget that. Firstly, there is security over most of the country that allows campaigning to go on both day and night. We should not exaggerate the significance of the few unfortunate incidents that have so far disturbed the electoral process. Secondly, there is confidence in the neutrality of the army. It may have largely been built up by President Museveni but there can be no doubt that it will respect the result of the presidential elections. This is truly a fundamental change and one for which we should all be profoundly grateful. Ends

A People's Army

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