• Thu Apr 19 2018
  • East Africa should have joint airforce and navy

The President also said that heads of state in the sister member states could use one presidential jet other than each having his or her own.
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Journalist @ New vision
The President also said that heads of state in the sister member states could use one presidential jet other than each having his or her own.

By Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi

In 1995 at a press conference at State House Nakasero, President Yoweri Museveni said East Africa Community member states could have joint air force, navy and other specialised units and agencies of the armed forces.

The President also said that heads of state in the sister member states could use one presidential jet other than each having his or her own.

He was answering a question as to why the then Vice-President and Defence Minister of Rwanda, Maj. Gen Paul Kagame, had used a Uganda's Presidential jet on his international trips. That was during honey moon of RPF victory that stopped a genocide that had claimed almost a million people in Rwanda.

The dream of President Yoweri Museveni could come true when in early February this year, armed forces of EAC member states marked the army week together to commemorate 37th anniversary of Tarehe Sita. The main cerebration was at Butaleja district.

The first East Africa Community (1977-1987) which was a common market and for common services, lacked crucial areas such as armed forces and security agencies and after the British intervention in crushing East Africa army mutinies in Uganda, Kenya and Tanganyika in 1964 and a subsequent revolution in Zanzibar, collaboration in those crucial areas was lacking.

However, Tanzanian People's Defence Forces, fighting side by side with Ugandan exiles particularly Kiikosi Maalum under Tito Okello and Oyite Ojok, Front for National Salvation (FRONASA) under Yoweri Museveni and Save Uganda Movement under Ateker Ejalu, brought to an end Idi Amin regime in Uganda on April 11, 1979, 39 years ago. They never had an official send off in 1981 as Ugandans had grown weary of them suspecting their country to have been behind removal of Uganda National Liberation Front governments under Yusuf Lule and Godfrey Binaisa and subsequent coming back of Obote after rigging 1980 elections.

However, ever since 1979, Ugandan military and police cadets started to be trained in Tanzania and most of our senior officers including Gen. Elly Tumwine, Gen.David Sejusa, Gen.Katumba Wamala, Lt.Gen. Henry Tumukunde, Maj. Gen. Jim Muhwezi, trained in Tanzania. Even FRONASA veterans like Gen. Yoweri Museveni, Gen.Salim Saleh, Gen. Abubaker Jeje Odong, Lt.Gen. Ivan Koreta, Maj.Gen. Fred Rwigyema had trained in Mozambique and fought side by side with Tanzanians in 1979.

There is no doubt that Rwandan Patriotic Army and now Rwandan Defence Forces, was an integral part of National Resistance Army and now Uganda People's Defence Forces. Sudan's People's Liberation Army was also a twin sister to NRA now UPDF. Both UPDF and RPF played a pivotal role in removal of Mobutu dictatorship in DR Congo. UPDF and Burundi are playing a leading role in AMISOM for pacification of Somalia.

Despite clashes here and there among East Africa Community member states, Baganda say, "Abooluganda bita bikoonagana tebyatika (brothers are like calabashes even if they knock one another none is broken), it is high time the dream of President becomes true, more especially now that a committee has been set up to draft a constitution for East Africa Confederation. Member states may have separate regular armies, police, prisons, intelligence services, in areas of defence and national security, but should have joint ones in support and specialised ones like air force and marines, which training and maintenance requires more resources, and since now security threats have taken regional and international dimensions. Let us sing with Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana; Forward ever, backward never.

The writer is a communications assistant at Government Citizen Interaction Centre, The Voice of the Citizens in Government, under Ministry of Information, ICT and National Guidance.

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