[Tuesday] in the morning, I received a call from Commander of the UPDF 4thDivision Brig. Kayanja saying that the attackers of Gulu Police station have got a base in Oyam District and that they arrested some of the attackers.
However, there is mix up of information between the police and the army. No one wants to tell the truth.
As they say truth is the first casualty of war. We dismiss the official narratives on the on-going nation wide spate of insurgencies where the government links it to all unhappy politicians and says that those of us who are not happy with the results of the recent elections are connected to such insurgencies.
This isn’t true and we reject the attempt at linking of political instability to all politicians because some of us are victims of such insurgencies. In fact, most of us on many occasions have been connected to such conflicts for speaking to Kony.
As a scapegoat for its failure to protect civilians government has sometimes alleged that we used to finance Kony to buy airtime on his satellite phones. Such narratives are false and diversionary. Coming so soon after the general elections the interpretation of these attacks by the Uganda state is suspect.
The Democratic Party also responds to many Ugandans who have been asking the where about of the Presidential Candidate we supported. The Rt. Hon. Amama Mbabazi’s contacts are well known and his homes both in Kanungu and Kampala are well known. Those who are now seeking to link him to these spate of violent attacks on security installations are missing the point.
The Democratic Alliance (TDA) and the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) which has claimed responsibility for these attacks on social media are not one and the same entities. We condemn any attempt to use the attacks as a scapegoat and a lame excuse to unleash repression and arrest, detain, torture, maim or even kill those of us who want an immediate end to the Museveni regime.
I can also confirm that attacking Gulu Central Police Station is not such a big feat. It’s security arrangement is rather porous as it is located right next to the Gulu Referral Hospital.
A few years ago a prankster walked into the station and took away their main register and record book from their reception counter.
Then to the embarrassment of the police, he sent an announcement on radio calling upon the police to retrieve the book from the radio station. All he wanted to prove is that the police station is vulnerable to security breaches.
Hardly two hours after the attack on Gulu Police Station, the police issued a statement which left many questions unanswered. Most of the statement was unsupported with concrete evidence. It must have been a compilation of raw intelligence lacking any professional security analysis.
For instance the police claimed that the attack on Gulu Police was an attempt by the perpetrators of the attack on Opit military detach to rescue Mr. Dan Oola Odiya who was arrested over a week ago and detained at the police station beyond the maximum period of 48 hours allowed for detention before production before a court of law.
Mr. Dan Odiya is a member of the leadership of the Uganda People’s Congress and was also in charge of polling day logistic in Gulu, Amuru and Nwoya for the Amama Mbabazi campaign.
He was intercepted unknown gunmen about a week ago as he tried to get a boda boda to go to his home. He was held at gun point and forced into a car.
His whereabouts remained unknown for a few days until he surfaced at Gulu Central Police Station. He remained in detention for several days without being produced in court.
Our legal system is based on the presumption of innocence. The continued detention of Odiya or for that matter any of the suspects beyond 48 hours is therefore unlawful and a breach of their constitutional rights. We call upon the security organs of the state to adhere to the rule of law and refrain from making politically motivated arrests.
We are concerned that the line between law enforcement and politics is being blurred in the response to the Opit and Gulu Police Station attacks. We are also concerned that there seems to be dissension within the security organs of the state especially the army.
It is clear that these voices of dissent hitherto suppressed are finding strange but violent outlets. These attacks being linked to some highly placed members of the security forces could be a boiling over of dissension. Some security personnel seem to be simply tired of being used as disposable tools to prop up one man’s political hegemony.
That said, we cannot as a nation afford a divided army. Museveni needs to do some serious housekeeping within his security apparatus and sort out the issues that are dividing the military. In doing so, he should not be vindictive or fail to adhere to the rule of law and the attendant due process.
Col. Opito, the commandant of the Entebbe Airforce Base Garrison at Entebbe is from Oyam. The alleged attackers of Opit are from Oyam. And according to the Gulu RDC, who spoke on radio in Gulu yesterday morning, the attackers of Gulu police were trying to rescue those who were detained after the Opit attack. It’s not difficult to put two and two together and see what is going on.
If the attacks are just a smoke screen to smear opponents of the Museveni regime and thus justify their persecution, this too shall come to light. The wild allegation by the Gulu RDC that these spate of attacks are being fuelled by the diaspora cannot be taken seriously.
That is a familiar narrative of blaming the victim which we reject. Last week leaders of diverse backgrounds gathered in Gulu under the auspices of Wang OO, an Acholi community Organisation, and made a unanimous declaration that even as we seek redress for the many wrongs unleashed against our people by the Museveni regime we shall not resort to violence. Our people feel that in Museveni’s Uganda they have no sense of belonging.
They are stigmatized as second class citizens and the collective guilt for whatever went wrong in our bloodstained history is heaped on their heads.
This coupled with the fact that Museveni has consistently resisted any calls for a National Truth and Reconciliation process makes our people to believe that Museveni simply does not care about their future because he does not want to face his responsibility for past atrocities and betrayals.
In 1985, Museveni signed a peace agreement with the peace loving and good natured Gen. Tito Okello. Hardly had the ink dried on the agreement than he attacked the man who had just told the national army he led to stand down.
Museveni’s guerrilla army overran the government in 1986. At that time many of those now opposed to the regime were still Museveni’s adoring fans. For some of us we knew that Museveni then as now did not have the DNA of a democrat. Therefore Museveni has not changed. He is what he has always been.
As if that was not enough when his victorious rebel army went north they unleashed untold atrocities bordering on Genocide on the people.
In 1988 he again sat down to sign an agreement with the former members of the Uganda National Liberation Army who had metamorphosed into a rebel outfit called the Uganda People’s Democratic Army. Together with Col. Angelo Okello they agreed on several measures to ensure peace. Again, Museveni reneged on the promises he made fueling another uprising and rebellion by Kony’s LRA.
In 2006 after resisting peace talks for decades, Museveni finally agreed to talk to the LRA. An agreement was made and the two delegations signed under the auspices of mediators and observers. The key undertakings especially the comprehensive solutions to the root causes of the armed conflict remain dead letters in the agreement. The political will to implement these undertakings to spearhead a healing process has been lacking.
Gulu and Northern Uganda therefore remain scarred. The guns fell silent but durable peace remains elusive. Gulu may not rank high in terms of income per capita but it surely leads in guns per capita. It also has a disproportionately high percentage of people with armed combat experience.
The majority population who are young don’t see a future under the current power arrangement. They are unemployed, unskilled and impatient for political change. We cannot pretend that we don’t understand the anguish in which the people of Northern Uganda are trapped. Armed rebellion is one way of expressing their outrage.
We have tried our best to restrain them but in the absence of reciprocal measures that reassure the populace that there is a light at the end of their dark tunnel, there is no guarantee that our people will wait much longer for redress which is not coming. This is what fuels the temptation to resort to violence.
If I know the people of Gulu and Northern Uganda well, I can say that our dissatisfaction and disgruntlement is not about wealth or power. It is about truth, justice and dignity. Throwing money at us will not quench our thirst for justice.
That is why appointing the son of Gen. Tito Okello to the cabinet and thinking that it redresses the betrayal and treachery that propelled Museveni to power is self-delusion. We demand a sense of belonging in a country we find ourselves in. We did not fill out an application form seeking to become Ugandans. We just found ourselves fenced in by a colonial fait accompli.
So where do we go from here? How do we break the cycle of violence and return to the constitutional path?
First we have to humble ourselves and admit that like past attempts at consensus dating from 1900, Lancaster House, and Moshi, the Luwero Consensus has collapsed. The consensus crafted by the guerrilla fighters of Luwero Triangle was based on a big lie and has turned out to be nothing but a Tower of Babel. Uganda needs a new consensus. We need a new consensus on democracy, the economy, peace and security and national unity.
In this situation where the security agencies are not telling the truth, and fear and uncertainty has seized the populace the public yearns for voices of reason. The public yearns for voices that will ensure that our young, energetic, unemployed and frustrated people are not misguided by opportunists seeking to fish in troubled waters.
Therefore this week I will together with other leaders head to Gulu to reassure our people that our struggle is largely about the future. It’s about the kind of future we seek to bequeath to the future. Our struggle cannot be reduced merely to a contest about who gets to live in State House. Our collective, unified and reasonable voice will identify the common positives in our predicament.
There are many negatives but you can only go so far with negatives. Negatives however appealing in times of crisis tend to boomerang. We understand the frustrations of our people but we must not allow violence to tear apart the fiber of our community. We shall persevere in finding other ways, other than violence, to respond to these troubled times.
Above all we shall engage with other stakeholders, even those we vehemently disagree with, seeking common ground however small and focus on a conversation based on principles rather than selfish interests.
We caution the ruling party to desist from the wrong strategy of engaging in trivial vindictive talk. Let’s focus on having a dialogue in the spirit captured in the words of the Holy Bible telling us “Come now and let us reason together”. The resistance to a national dialogue is largely because the incumbent regime is obsessed with holding onto political power.
The gun totters should have no room in our politics but it would also be naive for us to think that they need our permission to unleash violence. The best we can do is to deny them the basis for justifying their violence. We have only two choices: chaos or community based on a dialogue aimed at building a new consensus. As a nation we need to do some serious soul searching and identify where we lost our way.
Heroes Day Celebrations
Museveni has began awarding medals to himself in a manner reminiscent of George Orwell’s Animal Farm where revolutionaries turned tyrants started awarding themselves medals styled Animal Hero Class 1, Order of the Battle of the Cowshed, Order of the Battle of the Windmill etc. Now Museveni has awarded himself the highest medal of all – The Katonga Medal.
The last person who got that medal was former Libyan President Col. Muamar Gadaffi. He ended up badly so we hope that this medal is not jinxed. Medals were also awarded to combatants of Dr. Andrew Lutakome Kayira’s Uganda Freedom Movement (UFM).
We denounce this cynical gesture of awarding medals to UFM combatants without clearing the air about the death of UFM leader Dr. Kayira. We demand that the government should make public the report on the circumstances of the death of Dr. Kayira.
The Democratic Party congratulates Mr.Stephen Sekigozi for successfully challenging the victory of Mr. Peter Sematimba as MP for Busiro South Constituency.
The Democratic Party urges Peter Sematimba to abandon his plans of appealing against the Ruling of the High Court and calls upon Mr. Apuda the Executive director of National Council for Higher Education to stop acting as a Counsel for Mr. Ssematimba. Rules are rules and Mr. Ssematimba’s academic credentials did not stand up to scrutiny by the court. An empty sack cannot stand. Ssematimba should stop wasting the time of the voters of Busiro South.
The root cause of the debacle over academic papers is the NRM which turned the whole academic vetting process into a money minting machine. For a fee the candidates got papers certifying their qualifications forgetting that unless the certificates being verified are genuine, the verification cannot be genuine.
Our task right now is to ensure that DP goes into the by election as a united front to avoid the divisions which cost us the seat in the first place. We shall reach out to all stakeholders, listen to all aggrieved parties and build a consensus around a single candidate. That is the only way we can show that we have learnt any lesson from the election. When DP wins, we all win.
When DP loses, we all lose. I have asked the party National Vice President, Hon. Mukasa Mbidde to spearhead the talks in Busiro South. Given the successful political bridge building he championed in Masaka which led to a massive DP victory, I have every confidence that we shall heal the vital and historically DP constituency of Busiro South.