Ambassador Henry Mayega

On January 26, 1986 President Yoweri Museveni and his NRM/Acompatriots-call them heroes/heroines marched into Uganda’s capital city, Kampala, taking over the reins of power from the Okello-Okello military junta that had grabbed government a year earlier from the Milton Obote administration. The NRM/A takeover was after a protracted guerrilla war of five years.

Those liberating compatriots included men and women extracted from a broad political spectrum that included monarchists, multi-party adherents, Marxists as well as federalists whose ultimate and collective desire was to secure and pacify the country which had, perennially, been bedevilled by war-mongering, despoliations, anarchy and outright savagery. The 1970s, for instance, witnessed Idi Amin’s most diabolic and gory regime that even claimed the life ofthe Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, JananLuwum in what was clearly a fake accident.

The most tantalizing question is: how has the Yoweri Museveni administration been consolidating security, peace and stability since 1986?

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Firstly, that consolidation has resulted from Yoweri Museveni’s safe pair of hands, superb stewardship and magnanimity. As Uganda’s finest president, his administration has done it through the following:

Secondly, right from the bush days, Yoweri Museveni saw the benefits of political cohabitation between Uganda’s plethora of political forces; in 1986, the NRM/A dominant force invited others from all shades of political opinion to form what was referred to as the “broad-based government.” That, in a sign of quick-wittedness on the part of the president, helped calm the political tempers that had boiled to fever point since the 1966 crisis.Die-hard sand sane souls from the UPC, DP, CP, Mengo’s monarchists et al extractions were brought on board under that umbrella of political cohabitation that saw a level of unprecedented unity amongst hither-to sworn enemies.

Thirdly, Yoweri Museveni’s feat of convincing the army council membership in the late 1980s (save for recalcitrant Warren Kiiza Besigye who rejected the idea) to have traditional institutions restored in areas that revered them exhibited a well-articulated traction towards national healing and simultaneously persuade some hot heads out of the path to violence.After the restoration many felt accommodated and acknowledged that the injustice committed in 1966 when kingdoms were abolished by the Milton Obote government had been repudiated.

Thirdly, Ugandans should remember how the British colonizers had built the oppressive military machine hell-bent to crush any slight decent amongst the inhabitants of their “protectorate,”Uganda. The Yoweri Museveni administration, rightly, disbanded remnants of that outfit and in its place the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces was born – a truly national army.The administration simultaneously modernized the UPDF, initially the NRA,and has sinceobliterated over twenty rebel/terrorist groups including the LRA, ADF, FUNA, UNRF, Kirimutu, UPDA, FOBA, UPA, Holy Spirit Movement from Uganda’s orbit.

The army has, at the international level, also participatedin degrading the Al Shabab in Somalia(a terror group that chased the American military from that country in the 1990s), the ADF in the DRC, rebels in Sierra Leon, South Sudan and in the CAR.The UPDF has also been supportive to the Uganda Police Force’smaintenance ofsecurity in times of need plus, both agencies are not as parasitic as their predecessors as typified by their engineering units’ participation in productive work; the pavilion at Kololo airstrip, for instance, was built by the UPDF.

Never in the history of independent Uganda has the national army been closest to citizens; in these peace times, the UPDF has a fully-fledged department whose job it is to “okukwanaganyaamajjena bantu” – the chieftaincy of civil military relations,the very reason why pockets of insecurity anywhere in the country are reported and nipped in the bud precipitately.

Fourthly, the LC structure, initially mooted and tested during the Luwerobush war of 1980-1986, has been particularly instrumental in the maintenance of security. Village committees plus their higher replicas at gombolola, county as well as at the district levels have commendably ensured security, peace and stability due to their vigilance and instantaneous reporting arrangements; Their secretaries for security have commendable reinforced security agencies.

Fifthly, many elements from former fighting rebel groups who qualified were either discomfited or persuaded out of rebellion and re-integrated into initially the NRA and now the UPDF;others have been permitted space in national elective politics – a feat attributable to President Yoweri Museveni’s magnanimity and liberality.

Lastly, the disarmament exercise, especially in the Karamoja sub-region has largely helped in bringing peace to the north eastern part of Uganda despite bouts and surges of inter and intra national incursions by a kaleidoscope of raiders.

Ambassador Henry Mayega

Consul General

Dubai

United Arab Emirates

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