Muntu warns army on coup talk
Posted Friday, January 25 2013 at 02:00
Warning bells. FDC boss and ex-army commander says military takeover would be ‘stupid’, as Maj. Gen. Jim Muhwezi says he will oppose any coup attempt.
Former army commander and now leader of the Forum for Democratic Change, Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu, yesterday warned that a military takeover of government would not only be stupid, but also counterproductive.
Maj. Gen.(rtd) Muntu, who commanded the UPDF for nearly nine years, becoming the longest serving officer in that position in the country’s history, sent a direct warning to the men and women in uniform at a press conference he called at the headquarters in Kampala.
He, however, refused to be drawn into commenting on whether the President, Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga and army chief Gen. Aronda Nyakairima’s comments about a possible coup may amount to treason.
“I don’t want to speculate and say much,” he said when asked if the comments were treasonable. “To the UPDF, I have this to say: no officer should be tempted to think of overthrowing the government as insinuated by the Head of State as trying to do so would not only be foolish but also counterproductive,” he said.
Uganda’s Constitution provides that all power belongs to the people who shall express how they will be governed through free and fair elections. Any attempt to take control of government under any other means is prohibited by the same Constitution and is sanctioned as treasonable.
Maj. Gen Muntu said the President, Dr Kiyonga and Gen. Nyakairima were engaging in “psychological warfare” as a tactic to intimidate political actors. He said the government, which marks 27 years in power this week having shot its way to power in 1986, is in free fall.
“Personally, I think it is a tactic to intimidate Parliament for it to check itself. President Museveni has realised that he has lost control over the party and he knows that if he loses control over Parliament, he will lose whatever means he has been using to manipulate power,” Maj. Gen. Muntu said.
“The regime is in a state of free-fall and the military must start engaging in scenario building because there is an inevitable change that is coming and the institution should not be taken by surprise.”
President Museveni was quoted as having told ruling party MPs at their recent Kyankwanzi retreat that if the “confusion” in Parliament persists, the military would not allow it.
Dr Kiyonga had earlier said the army was watching and could take over to “refocus the future of the country”. On Wednesday, Gen. Nyakairima said this message “was deliberately sent out.”
Yesterday, Maj. Gen. Muntu pointed out that “when Members of Parliament rise up in a bipartisan effort to demand a stop to the cancer of corruption, it cannot be characterised as confusion.”
A dispute arising out of perceptions that Mr Museveni is interfering with the independence of Parliament and the constitutional principle of separation of powers gained momentum when he moved to stop a bid to have the House recalled.
MPs, who have taken an increasingly independent line in their fight against what they say is widespread corruption in government, wanted Parliament recalled from recess following the sudden death of the Butaleja Woman MP Cerinah Nebanda in December.
Mr Museveni, however, resisted the bid, held meetings with Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, who recently indicated that she would not recall MPs. Ms Kadaga has since been accused of bowing to Mr Museveni and compromising Parliament.
Senior Presidential adviser on the Media, Mr John Nagenda, yesterday insisted that President Museveni is still in control of Parliament and the NRM but “is just employing a three-line whip to contain” legislators.