24 January 2013

Uganda: Stand Warned, Army Chief Cautions Chaotic Politicians

The Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Gen. Aronda Nyakairima has warned politicians not to take the country back to the past era of political turmoil.

Gen. Aronda's comments follow a recent statement by the Defence minister Dr. Crispus Kiyonga who cautioned MPs to desist from conduct that undermines the public confidence in the legislature and can cause the army to intervene and take over government.

Dr Kiyonga was speaking in reaction to the rowdy scenes that engulfed Parliament during the debate of the recently passed Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) Bill, 2012 when MPs became rowdy during the vote on a clause that gives powers to the oil minister over the petroleum authority.

The comments by Dr. Kiyonga have since generated a public debate over the matter.

Launching the Armed Forces Week at the Ministry of Defence headquarters in Mbuya, Gen. Aronda delivered a cautious statement after being asked by journalists to comment on Minister Kiyonga's statement.

"I can tell you that no orders have been issued. We are going about our usual business of guarding the country. But I think that the message was well-taken by those to whom it was intended. Stand warned," said Gen. Aronda Nyakairima.

"Stand advised that should you not change course, other things will take place. Let no one return us to the past. We experienced a quarter century of turmoil and we cannot afford to take the country back," added Aronda.

Present at the press conference were Members of Parliament from the West Nile region. The Armed Forces Week will culminate into the celebration of Tarehe Sita day on February 6.

This year's 32nd anniversary celebrations will be hosted in the West Nile region, with Arua district hosting the main event at the Arua Boma grounds.

Tarehe Sita is in remembrance of the first armed attack that was launched by National Resistance Army (NRA) guerrillas on February 6, 1981.

Led by President Yoweri Museveni, the NRA fought a 5-year armed struggle and captured power on January 26, 1986. The NRA has since been renamed the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF).

Brig. Charles Arube to be honoured

The activities to mark Tarehe Sita will include reburial in Koboko town, of the remains of Brig. Charles Arube who was instrumental in opposing the military junta of Idi Amin Dada.

In 1974, Brig. Arube unsuccessfully attempted a coup against Amin and reportedly committed suicide and was buried in Jinja.

However, the army is to exhume his body and will be reburied with full military honours at his ancestral home in Koboko.

According to the state minister for Defence, Gen Jeje Odongo, this year's theme for Tarehe Sita will be, "UPDF the vanguard for national transformation and solidarity for regional peace and development."

Minister Odongo said the West Nile region had participated in fighting dictatorship and resisting insurgency, as well as renouncing rebellion.

He also said that the region which borders South Sudan and DR Congo is strategic for regional integration.

The weeklong activities to be undertaken by all army units countrywide will involve medical outreaches, construction and repair works of installations such as markets, schools and hospitals.

In the host West Nile region, activities will be superintended by Brigadier Timothy Sabiiti, the commander of the engineering brigade and Col. Stephen Kusasira the UPDF director medical services.

Gen. Aronda said the West Nile region has been instrumental in the struggle to liberate Uganda and defending the State from those trying to capture power such as Col. Juma Oris of the West Nile Bank Front (WNBF) rebel force.

"We are going back to honour that history of liberation and we are going to thank them for liberating and defending the State power," Gen. Aronda said.

Other activities will include a total of 28 projects to sink boreholes, construction and renovation of bridges, classrooms, health centers, district council halls and toilets and bathrooms.

Also, the army will carry out health awareness campaigns, malaria prevention, immunization, eye and dental services, deworming, bush clearing, HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.

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