The Uganda Peopleâ€™s Defence Forces (UPDF) celebrated its 26th birthday amidst pomp and pageantry, as we recalled the first action that ignited the five-year liberation struggle in 1981.
That was when some 40 thick-skinned fighters of the Popular Revolutionary Army attacked Kabamba garrison with only 27 guns. Notable absentees were RO 058 Anthony Kyakabale; RO 069 Samson Mande; RO 098 Dr. Kizza Besigye; and his wife, Sgt. Winnie Karagwa Byanyima.
Dr. Besigye would have stood near Ivan Koreta, Kahinda Otafiire, Salim Saleh, Elly Tumwine, Pecos Kutesa, Fred Mwesigye, David Tinyefuza and Jim Muhwezi. Watching the celebration on television, Dr. Besigye should have wondered why he was not standing next to Gen. Tinyefuza at whose wedding he was the best-man.
Mande, Kyakabale and Muzoora, the senior commanders of the Peopleâ€™s Redemption Army (PRA), are deserters from the UPDF. The fact that Col. Mande is linked to the PRA and is also the zonal representative of the FDC to Scandinavia points to a possibility of a connection between FDC and PRA. The path chosen by the PRA can only be justified and legitimised by victory.
The PRA suspects have been elevated to the status of political martyrs. Opposition parties like DP, UPC, CP and FDC are united in demanding for the suspectsâ€™ immediate release.
The FDC shows no concern for any treason suspects not connected to the PRA, as if the PRA is the FDCâ€™s surrogate army. This is the modern way of conducting an armed rebellion.
The leaders keep distance from the criminality by forming a legal political organisation. That is why Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein officially has nothing to do with IRA bombings in Belfast because he is only on the political wing of the 106 year-old rebel group.
Surprisingly, the grand alliance includes the UPC, which will never forgive the NRM for its demise. This happened when President Museveni, Besigye, Mande, Kyakabale and others gave the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA) such a beating that it removed UPC from power. The NRA routed that army too.
Assuming Dr. Besigye came to power, we would know whether the PRA existed or not. Cols. Mande, Kyakabale and perhaps Muzoora, if he is alive, would play major roles in the new regimeâ€™s military, along with their troops.
How would these positions be secured? Dr. Besigye has always expressed intentions to shake up the UPDF command and to crack down on the intelligence organs like the Internal Security Organisation (ISO), External Security Organisation (ESO) and the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI).
Perhaps these security organs would be replaced by new ones, or their commanders would be sacked and be replaced by the new liberators. This would be a blatant overthrow of the Constitution since these are constitutional bodies.
In refusing to attend the 26th birthday of the army he helped to nurture, Dr. Besigye sent a wrong signal to the UPDF that the FDC has an alternative army.
Could this be the PRA? Does Winnie and Warren Besigyeâ€™s absence at Tarehe Sita celebrations suggest that there is another army closer to their hearts?
The writer is the UPDF spokesman
Does Besigye control PRA rebel group?