Exiled UPDF officer Col Samson Mande has announced he is returning home soon. He did not put a specific date to it but revealed he will be in Uganda not later than December this year.
Col Mande did not say under what circumstances he will return given that he may be arrested and charged with deserting the army, but said he is returning to Uganda to continue with his struggle for political change and good governance.
“Now that I have been fully repaired medically, have added value to myself and I am loaded with solutions to many of my motherland’s challenges I am coming back home to enhance the struggle for sustainable political, social and economic development. I will soon give you more details on this mission,” Col Mande said in interview with Saturday Monitor on Thursday.
“Let me make one point clear the struggle I am part of is the struggle for democracy, good governance and respect for human rights, the rule of law and a sound economy for all. I joined the struggle in 1978 during the military campaign against the junta under the late Field Marshall Idi Amin (RIP) and I am still in the struggle,” he added.
Col Mande fell out with President Museveni’s government and fled into exile in 2002 after several arrests and incarceration in military cells and secret detention chambers. He said he decided to come out openly because his covert resistance against the NRM government went unrecognised.
“We had earlier on been opposing the vices of the regime we brought to power but quietly, clandestinely and passively. So we were not easily understood until we opened up. In 2001, I was the only serving officer that stood up and declared support for Dr Kizza Besigye openly. I knew the consequences would be painful but as a revolutionary I will always stand up for what I believe in even if it means standing alone or losing my life. My 14 years of exile is part of the consequences,” he said.
Col Mande is among the top 100 officers of the National Resistance Army, now Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), that fought the 1981-86 Bush War that brought President Museveni to power. His service number is RO69 meaning “Resistance Officer 69.”
He boasted of a wide network abroad and said he is coming to join hands with all forces pursuing the “long awaited fundamental change” for democracy, and free and fair elections that provide smooth change of power from one President to another.
“I will work “with” and not “for” anyone with whom we share the vision or ideology of our country and Africa in general. I do not mind which political party, religion, region, tribe, gender or age.
I will pay more attention to the youth and women because in all my life I have been on the side of disaantaged people,” Col Mande said.
He refuted Lt Col Anthony Kyakabale’s statements in the Daily Monitor on March 30. In the said article, Kyakabale admitted that the People’s Redemption Army (PRA) rebel group existed but it failed to fight the government because of poor organisation.
Immediately after Mande and Kyakabale fled the country, it was reported that they had formed PRA to fight the government, with former president of Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) Dr Kizza Besigye, who had contested against Mr Museveni in the 2001 presidential election.
Dr Besigye was arrested upon his return from exile in South Africa in 2005 and tried for treason but was later acquitted. Previously, both Mande and Kyakabale had denied knowledge of PRA but Kyakabale’s admission of its existence last week was a surprise to many.
“The things he said against me in his interview with the Daily Monitor are false, uncalled for and childish. What is very true is that he, as an individual without consulting me, declared war against the government of Uganda. When I read his declaration of war in the Daily Monitor (shortly after fleeing to exile in 2002), I called him and asked him what was going on.
This is what he said: “Andrew Mwenda (former Monitor reporter) has misquoted me, I have told him we are in a struggle for democracy and good governance.” He has on many occasions refuted the allegations that he or we declared war or formed the PRA (People’s Redemption Army) rebel outfit if at all it existed,” Col Mande continued.
“His new revelations leave me wondering whether he has told us the truth about his conversation with Andrew Mwenda or he is making false confessions against himself and us under economic duress. Could it be in exchange of 30 pieces of silver since he admits he is under economic duress or in exchange for freedom to go home?” Col Mande wondered.
Col Mande also said he still does not trust Gen David Sejusa who also returned from exile in December last year ostensibly under the auspices of the State. He said Gen Sejusa has not changed since his return from exile. A few months before Gen Sejusa’s return, Col Mande had warned against working with him, saying he was on a State mission.
Col Mande also dismissed former prime minister Amama Mbabazi’s seeming fallout with Mr Museveni as a mere smoke screen. “They belong to the same old school of politicians, share the same ideology and both have endorsed the “sole candidate” scheme for Museveni’s 2016 return.
I have neither seen Mbabazi withdrawing his signature from the Kyankwanzi resolution or revoking his statement that he can never stand against his colleague Museveni,” Col Mande reasoned.
Col Mande described as dictatorial the last week’s incident in Kampala where Mbabazi’s wife Jacqueline, the chairperson of the NRM Women’s League, was blocked from attending a meeting of the NRM Women’s League, which she chairs.
“Blocking Mbabazi’s wife is so unjust and a manifestation of the political persecution, repression and suppression of divergent views in NRM, which has reached the climax,” Col Mande said.
WHO IS MANDE?
Col Samson Mande’s UPDF service number RO 69 which puts him among the top 100 National Resistance Army Bush War fighters.
He commanded one of the first six independent units during the Bush War in the Luweero Triangle in 1983. He commanded 1st Battalion, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Battalion, 9th Battalion and Task Force which operated in Kyadondo-Matuga-Bombo-Masulita and Mukono District.
His Task Force merged with the late Brig Chefe Ali’s UNLF troops in 1984 to form the Western Axis frontline and the 11th Battalion in Rwenzori. By 1985 the 11th Battalion had captured enough weapons and trained enough personnel to form the 15th battalion, the crack battalion which Col Mande commanded as the NRA fighters aanced on the capital Kampala, which fell on January 26, 1986.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor