27 January 2013

Uganda: Dismas Nkunda - Uganda Needs Another Coup - Now!


At the Kololo grounds, where we celebrated fifty years of independence last year, stands a giant billboard.

You cannot miss it. It depicts members of Uganda People's Defence Forces, and its message is very clear: the UPDF is the most professional army Uganda has ever had. Not much argument there, as we know the other armies were involved in coups and counter coups.

Now when one hears the army chief, the usually suave and quiet Gen Aronda Nyakairima, warning that should the politics remain confused, with the perceived rebellion from NRM MPs and a difficult-to-control Parliament, then a coup could be staged by the army, you have got to take notice. However, I don't mind coups. They are good, for only then do we know that we have thrown out the usual pretences to democracy.

What a coup would do is make our dear UPDF measure up to the past armies that overthrew each other with such ease. A coup would also present a good education for the younger generation which never witnessed any coups being played out. It would probably make them fully appreciate their history. Coups those days were so predictable that one could easily tell something was afoot even before it occurred.

For the citizens, it always began at Radio Uganda, then the only broadcast media. First, the radio would suddenly go off air. If it did resume for some reason, it would only play martial music. We would then huddle around radios and tune to BBC, shuffling back and forth between Radio Uganda and BBC, just in case our national radio made an important announcement.

So one of these days when your hear all the over 180 FM radio and TV stations suddenly go silent only to reawaken with "O moto wa waka", that original and famous NRA song, then begin getting very worried. We will then hear that there is a special announcement. "The UPDF has today taken over the government of Uganda. We have retained Gen Yoweri Museveni as the head of the Military Council that is now in charge of the country.

Both the Constitution and Parliament are hereby suspended. All the ministers are relieved of their duties. They are required to hand over all ministry properties to designated army officers who will now take over the supervision of all the ministries. The army will patrol most of the country to avoid confusion. Anyone found looting will be shot on sight" signed, the Uganda Military Revolutionary Council (UMRC), (or something to that effect).

With that announcement, we will then barricade ourselves indoors as the army goes out of control. They will shoot whoever is moving around without clearance. There will be so much shooting that those born after 1986 will wonder whether it isn't one of those blockbuster movies being shot near their homes. They may, having never experienced such prolonged shooting, think someone was having fun with leftover fireworks from the end-of-year fest. Out of curiosity, they may wander off to have a closer look.

Those of us who are older will have already taken precaution and hidden ourselves, except for a few who will be raiding shops and warehouses for anything they deem valuable.

The younger generation will wonder why these adults are struggling to carry a fridge or sack of sugar. They will wonder why the usually "professional UPDF", which they always saw to be at peace with everyone, has suddenly exploded into an orgy of killing.

Coups of the past were good for ordinary folk; at the slightest suspicion, they would begin marking out shops to loot for anything they had longed for but could not afford.

So, I do agree with the army chief, minister of Defence and the commander-in-chief of the UPDF, that we need a coup very quickly. It is not only good to complete the history of the country but also help the army reassert its supremacy in the country. It will help Uganda complete its picture as a country known only for coups and bloodshed.

Whether Uganda will be suspended by the African Union, the East African Community or indeed the International Conference of the Great Lakes is not of importance. Like Mali, we might draw the ire of other countries into intervening. Maybe our former colonial masters, Great Britain, will do what France is doing for Mali. Invade the country and remove an illegitimate government.

Regional countries might not want a rogue government in their midst. So, we may see Kenya, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi or even Tanzania that liberated us from Idi Amin, come in again to throw out the rogues! And with that, history will be complete. The 1972 coup by Idi Amin and the 1985 one by Gen Tito Lutwa and the 1986 coming to power of the current government were not in vain after all. Now wouldn't this be a great education in our history?

The author is a human rights expert and specialist on refugee issues.

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