President Yoweri Museveni has assured Ugandans that the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) is a strong force that is time tested, has secured the country and guaranteed peace and stability for decades.
He emphasized that UPDF is not a dictatorship and it needs to be led by a clear headed political leadership in order to safeguard the country and cement national stability.
The President, therefore, urged citizens to value their electoral power, vote wisely and vote the right leadership that will guide the UPDF to perform their duties and ensure national security that will propel national development.
Mr. Museveni made the remarks yesterday while officiating at the commissioning ceremony of the Gulu-Atiak-Nimule road in Gulu Municipality.
The road, which has been upgraded and is tarmac from Gulu to the Uganda – South Sudan border point of Nimule, cost the Government of Uganda Shs.89 billion using a loan from the World Bank.
Mr. Museveni said that the National Resistance Movement inherited a failed state in 1986 that was characterized by insecurity and total economic breakdown.
He, however, noted that NRM has developed formidable state institutions that have guaranteed peace, security and economic development of the country overtime.
He, therefore, appealed to Ugandans to support the time tested leadership of the Movement to guarantee the brighter future of Uganda.
“We have built a strong army but it’s not a dictatorship and needs a well founded and clear headed leadership to be sure that the country’s future is safe,” he said.
“Even if you have a strong army without clear political leadership, you can’t guarantee national peace and transformation. Therefore, value your vote because it counts,” he said
The President, who equated a weak government to a ‘body infected with the HIV virus’ stressed that to bring about total peace in all corners of Uganda, it took the wise decision of the National Resistance Movement to invest heavily in strengthening the Army that in turn defeated the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and disarmed the Karimajong cattle rustlers.
“We took a leadership decision to strengthen the Army against the wishes of many other players because we had realized that insecurity was bred out of the weaknesses in the Army and by 2003 we had defeated Kony and you can see the development taking place in Northern Uganda,” he noted.
“We have totally defeated the Allied Democratic Forces and arrested their leader Jamil Mukulu who should tell us why they have been killing Ugandans and they can never attack Uganda because they will pay a heavy price,” he added.
The President also said “we have also successfully disarmed the Karimajong cattle rustlers who were drank with the power of the gun and recovered 40,000 guns that are twice the strength of the Amin Army and much more than the UNLA force under President Obote because our army is strong,” he added.
“I wonder what would have happened if the leadership was weak and listened to all sorts of advice. Be mindful of the leaders you elect,” the President cautioned.
Mr. Museveni, however, urged Ugandans to make good use of the peace and the excellent infrastructure, such as the good roads so far in place, and work to get rid of poverty especially through commercial agriculture.
He noted that because the economy is doing well and the tax base has widened, and that with more revenue expected from the oil production, government will play its part and give more support to Ugandans. But he emphasized that citizens needed to wake up and play their part in this wealth creation drive to stamp out poverty.
The President, who said that the National Resistance Movement believes in working as opposed to politicking, asked leaders in Northern Uganda to join hands with government and develop their region instead of opposing every project and programme that that is initiated by the NRM government.
“Factories are good for the development of your region through generation of employment and being markets of what you produce. But it surprises me when politicians oppose every investor I invite here,” he said.
The President said that he was to launch and lead a nation-wide health campaign against Hepatitis B and encouraged Ugandans to test and immunize themselves against the disease.
The Minister for Disaster Preparedness, Engineer Hillary Onek, commended President Museveni for standing with Northern Uganda in bad times of war and insecurity and even in the area’s peaceful days of development.
“Mr. President, you are our true friend because you have always been here even at times when no leader would go beyond Karuma bridge and you continue to be with us as we rehabilitate and develop our motherland and we don’t take you for granted” he said.