By: SOLOMON ARINAITWE
KAMPALA: The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party has warned that a demand by President Museveni to launch a probe into atrocities committed by some NRA elements during counter-insurgency operations in northern Uganda could be a trap to seize dissenting generals ahead of the 2016 polls.
At celebrations to mark the NRM’s 28 years in power recently, Mr Museveni made an unprecedented admission that the National Resistance Army (NRA), now Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), could have committed atrocities against civilians that went unreported.
The President cited incidents in Mukura, Burcoro and Kanyum, where he said civilians, without giving a figure, lost lives at the hands of NRA soldiers.
The in-coming Leader of the Opposition in Parliament (LoP), Mr Wafula Oguttu, told journalists at FDC headquarters at Najjanankumbi that the inquiry could be a ploy by Mr Museveni to dent the credibility of Generals who were part of the operations, but have since joined the opposition. “He wants to use it to target political opponents by beginning to cast doubt on their integrity in the public. He is targeting [Mugisha] Muntu and Tinyefuza [aka David Sejusa], it is just obvious. There were atrocities in Luweero and Museveni was the “Chief Justice”-he decided who died and who lived. He is still the real chief justice,” Mr Oguttu said.
Mr Oguttu, nonetheless, welcomed the inquiry, urging that it should establish perpetrators of crimes in all the wars that have gripped post-independence Uganda. “All [stakeholders] should contribute ideas, the issues to be talked about and the formation of the people investigating,” the Bukhooli Central MP added.
In a telephone interview yesterday, presidential spokesman Tamale Mirundi asserted that dissenting generals should not “fear accountability”. Asked about what course of action could be taken if Mr Museveni, as the commander-in-chief, was found complicit by an inquiry, Mr Mirundi said it was unlikely since his boss “was executing his duties”.
“There is the Kenyan example where the police chief was dragged to the ICC but court ruled that he [David Kimaiyo] was doing his duties. He might have witnessed [the atrocities] but he did not commit any offence,” Mr Mirundi said. “Trying to drag in the President is unfortunate. Are you saying that Pope should be held responsible for all those priests in the Catholic Church who have been involved in defilement?”
Mr Oguttu further predicted that the President could be trying to nip in the bud any attempts by the International Criminal Court to try Ugandan Generals for any atrocities committed by creating an impression that trials are being conducted by the local justice systems.