27 January 2013

Uganda: MPs to Summon Aronda, Kiyonga Over Coup Talk

Defence Minister - Dr. Crispus Kiyonga and the Chief of Defence Forces Gen Aronda Nyakairima summoned to explain statements they recently made about ... ( Resource: Uganda's Defence Chief Summoned Over Remarks )

The curious story of a possible army takeover has rocked the political scene and prompted MPs to summon the country's security chiefs to clarify their remarks.

The Observer has learnt that Parliament's Defence and Internal Affairs committee wants to hear from ministry of Defence officials this week.

"We have heard a lot in the media and the comments are not good at all. But, as a committee which oversees the ministry, we are summoning the ministry to explain these claims," said Committee Vice Chairperson Simon Mulongo (Bubulo East) at the weekend.

The committee has ordered its clerk to write to Defence Minister Chrispus Kiyonga and Chief of Defence Forces Aronda Nyakairima asking them to appear before Parliament. MPs want to know from the security chiefs whether they made the said remarks, what formed the basis of the remarks and whether or not the army is aware that such remarks violate the Constitution.

"At first it was the minister, Dr Chrispus Kiyonga, now it is the Chief of Defence Forces, Gen Aronda Nyakairima. What is the justification and why at this time?" Mulongo asked.

While appearing before the Rules committee earlier this month, Kiyonga, who was explaining what he witnessed when the House debated the controversial "clause 9" of the Oil bill, reportedly said that the military would not simply look on as politicians brought confusion and chaos to the country. President Museveni reportedly made similar comments during the NRM caucus retreat in Kyankwanzi.

Then last week, without using the word "coup" but referring to Kiyonga's earlier statement, Gen Aronda said: "We are going about our normal business. I can't do more than what they (Kiyonga) said. The message was well taken for those to who it was intended. Stand warned. Stand advised. Should you not change course, other things will be brought into play. Let no one return to the past. We have seen enough, almost 25 years of turmoil..." Aronda reportedly told the media.

The remarks have caused quite a stir. Appearing on the weekly Capital Gang talk show on Capital FM, army Spokesman Felix Kulayigye said the allegations leveled against the UPDF were concocted by the media.

"The statements of the three people [Museveni, Kiyonga and Aronda] sounded a caution to our leaders...We are a professional army that abides by the Constitution and we cannot overthrow it...Gen Aronda has not talked about the word coup and whatever is being reported was out of context," Col Kulayigye said.

However, Mulongo said that much as the Defence officials claim to have been quoted out of context, they owe an explanation to the committee.

"We need to know the truth because what we are hearing remains rumours," he said.

The shadow minister for Defence, Hassan Kaps Fungaroo (Obongi County), said the statements betrayed'the state of governance in Uganda today.

"I agree with them, but if there is any change, it has to be provided for by our Constitution. So, if they think that they can take over power through unconstitutional means, it is no longer possible under the current legal regime," Fungaroo said.

Shadow Attorney General Abdu Katuntu was just as critical: "What the army is likely to do, as reported, is treasonable and, as Ugandans, we are enjoined to defend the Constitution," he told The Observer.

Copyright © 2013 The Observer. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.