The military leadership yesterday weighed in on the debate around the likelihood of the army staging a coup as has been suggested by President Museveni and his Minister of Defence, warning that “the message was deliberately sent out.”
Addressing a press conference to announce plans for this year’s Army Day, which falls on 6th February, the Chief of Defence Forces, Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, said the military would not allow “bad politics” take Uganda back into turmoil.
“We are going about our normal business. I can’t do more than what they said. The message was well taken for those to who it was intended. Stand warned. Stand advised. Should you not change course, other things will be brought into play. Let no one return to the past. We have seen enough, almost 25 years of turmoil.
Gen. Aronda was responding to a question raised by a journalist and when asked for clarification on the coup talk, he said, “the message was deliberately sent out and we leave it at that.”
More than a week ago, Defence minister, Dr Kiyonga, said that the army was watching and that there was a possibility that it could re-insert itself should the politicians in Parliament continue “not showing seriousness that they can solve the problems” facing the country.
He said that such an intervention would be carried out to “refocus the country’s future”.
The comments came at a time when the regime is faced with an assertive Parliament which refuses to back down in the fight against widespread corruption, among other social ills.
Days later, President Museveni was also quoted as having told ruling party members of parliament in Kyankwanzi that if the “confusion” in Parliament persists, the military would not allow it.
Both comments have drawn swift condemnation from regime critics who say that the ground is being set for Mr Museveni to carry out a ‘palace coup’ and replace the current relative democratic order with an overt military government.
The President and Dr Kiyonga have also been asked by the same critics to remember that Uganda is a democracy with an elected government.
Others have pointed out that the military is already an intimate part of the country’s political landscape with serving army officers deployed in non-traditional roles, and 10 representatives sitting in the House as army MPs.
Uganda’s present army evolved from a guerilla force (NRA) but is today applauded by Mr Museveni as a professional law-abiding force unlike past armies that were notorious for committing atrocities and overriding legitimate civilian authority.
The country has suffered a bloody history associated with military rule which the President usually refers to whenever he talks about what he calls the “peace and stability ushered in by the NRA/M”.
Yesterday, Gen. Aronda said the three-week civil military activities before February 6 will see UPDF repair 15 boreholes, renovate six health centres, construct two toilet and bathrooms, four classrooms and two bridges in West Nile region.
The Chief of UPDF medical services, Lt. Col. Dr Stephen Kusasira said starting Monday, the army will carry out public health interventions that include cleaning of general wards, immunisation, deworming, dental and maternal health services in the districts of Koboko, Nebbi, Arua, Yumbe, Zombo and others.
The Chief of Defence Forces said the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces was giving back to society as part of celebrating peace, development and security in the country.