By Alex Tumuhimbise
HOIMA- Government response to riots is laughable, Uganda's former army commander, Gen Mugisha Muntu, has said.
"The way government is responding to riots is laughable. They are tackling symptoms rather than the root causes," Gen Muntu, who is vying for presidency under the Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) party, said yesterday.
He said if people are suppressed so much that they cannot express themselves, they are likely to fight back.
Last week, riots broke out in various parts of the country following the arrest of the National Unity Party Presidential candidate Mr Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, and Forum for Democratic Change presidential aspirant Patrick Oboi Amuriat.
Mr Kyagulanyi was later bailed by the Iganga Chief Magistrates Court while Mr Amuriat was released on police bond.
Scores of people died while others were injured in the riots. Gen Muntu, Gen Henry Tumukunde, an independent presidential candidate and the Democratic Party Presidential candidate, Mr Nobert Mao, suspended their campaigns in protest against their arrest. They have since resumed their campaigns.
Gen Muntu who participated in the armed struggle that brought President Museveni to power in 1986 said government should not close doors for peace, dialogue, equality before the law, equity, fairness and justice.
He said the NRA fighters resolved to pick up guns to fight after the government in power closed doors of peace and addressing concerns of the people.
"We decided to pick up guns to break up those doors. Some of our colleagues perished in that war while others like us survived by the grace of God," Gen Muntu said, adding that he advocates for peaceful means to transfer of power that has failed to happen since Uganda attained independence. He said Uganda is seated on a time bomb because there are many Ugandans who are frustrated, citing the big number of young graduates who fail to get jobs in the market.
"Give us an opportunity to lead and we shall diffuse the social-political crisis that is building up in the country," Gen Muntu said in his campaign trail in Bunyoro Sub-region where he is currently canvassing support for his presidential bid. He has addressed rallies in Hoima, Kibaale, Kakumiro, and Kagadi districts.
Gen Muntu said he has a track record of leadership in commanding the army in his youthful days and putting up systems to manage the army and funds allocated to it.
"I am asking people of Bunyoro not to love me but trust me based on my track record. The moment you give me that trust, I will lead a disciplined team of men and women to put back the country on track," Gen Muntu said.
He said the temptations, the battles, and the furnace he has passed through and the conflicts he has managed have prepared him enough to take a shot at the presidency.
He promised to put up systems that will give Ugandans social-economic prosperity jobs, justice, fairness and equality before the law.
At a rally he held in Kisiita Town Council in Kakumiro District on Monday, Gen Muntu urged voters in Bunyoro Sub-region to retire President Museveni through the ballot.
"Retire Museveni by voting me because I am a person of high integrity and I had never betrayed Museveni. I used to advise him and he never used to listen to me and some of the things I used to warn him against are happening these days," he said.
Gen Muntu said despite the agriculture sector employing over 70 per cent of Ugandans, government only allocates about 3.8 per cent of its annual budget.
He promised to raise it to 10 per cent and later to 20 per cent just like how other African countries have done. Gen Muntu also promised to set up an agricultural bank that will give farmers and fishermen friendly financial services.
He further pledged to set up a national health insurance scheme to enable Ugandans easy access to health services.
"We also want to start a health insurance scheme such that our mothers giving birth can can be saved from paying hefty amounts of money in health facilities," Gen Muntu said.