The deputy speaker of parliament Jacob Oulanyah on Wednesday blocked shadow defence minister and Kilak South MP Gilbert Olanya from tabling a list of the dead Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) fighters that were killed during the Easter holiday double attack by the al-shabaab militia in Somalia.
Raising a matter of national concern, Olanya argued that UPDF spokesman Brig Richard Karemire and President Yoweri Museveni were giving contradicting numbers of the dead.
According to Karemire, four officers serving as part of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) were killed during a double attack on an Amisom military base in Bulamareer and Golwen in Lower Shabelle region of Somalia. Museveni on his official Twitter handle, @KagutaMuseveni said that eight Ugandan soldiers had been killed. International media and Somali military officials put the number of the dead at about 46.
Basing on the contradicting figures on the number of casualties, MP Olanya wanted to read out the names of the deceased including those that he said were not mentioned by the army on the floor of parliament. He was however not allowed to do so by deputy speaker, Oulanyah.
"Ugandans deserve to know the number of soldiers that were lost in Somalia in the recent attacks. Government should come out clearly to reveal the names of the fallen soldiers and when they are expected to be returned to the country for burial," Olanya said.
According to Olanya, government was not telling the country the truth. He said MPs had proof that 10 soldiers had perished during the attacks. Defense minister Adolf Mwesige insisted that eight Ugandan soldiers were killed, promising to make a comprehensive statement next Thursday. He added that 130 al-shabaab militants were also killed. Initially, the UPDF had said 22 militants had been killed.
"On the side of the UPDF, as the result of the attack, 4 soldiers of the UPDF were instantly killed, six soldiers were injured and out of the causalities, four of them have since died," Mwesige said.
Olanya also demanded an explanation on when government plans to have the UPDF withdrawn from Somalia.
"The withdraw of the UPDF was discussed by the UN Security Council and other agencies and agreed that since the threat still exists, the troop contributing countries should continue stay on until a review in 2019." said Mwesige.
Names of the reported dead UPDF soldiers according to the opposition seen by The Observer include Lt. Patrick Malende Mukoto, Sgt. Lumuria Moses, Cpl Ntaro David, WOL Mulamba Grace, Pte Mutegeki John and Pte Jakoya Edrisa. Others are Pte Olobo Yona, Pte Magret Birungi, Pte Mugajju and Pte Turyamureba Patrick.
Some of the seriously injured ones include Okoth Ronald, Christopher Alii, Mauda Samuel, Draku Ayub, Drich Lagu William, Benedicto Je-Je odong, Mujune Tinkasimire Patrick and Obed Mworozi. Others are Canwegu, Odoch Osborn, Kutoyi Bilali, Barikurahira Silvanus, Ocircan Thorach Francis, Olwol William and Cpl Ssemogorere.