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Opposition blasts President over UPDF

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By FARAHANI MUKISA

Posted  Sunday, January 12   2014 at  02:00

In Summary

The Opposition accuse the President of using the national army as if it were his private mercenary force.

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Kampala.

The opposition has told President Museveni to stop using the national army as if it is his private property.
“UPDF are not Museveni’s children that he can execute powers over them unquestioned. His decision was too personal and likely to cause more havoc than solutions,” Mr Mathias Mpuuga, Masaka Municipal MP told the Sunday Monitor at the weekend.

Justice Forum party leader Asuman Basalirwa said the President’s deployment of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces in a foreign country is tantamount to disrespect of the rule of law.
“His decision was complete impunity. It emphasises what we have always been saying; that Museveni and his NRM act on personal judgments to decide and dictate national issues,” said Mr Basalirwa.

However, the UPDF spokesperson, Lt Col Paddy Ankunda, rebuffed the opposition claim. Ankunda said the President was acting within the Constitution and fulfilling his mandate.
“The President was exercising his powers basing on an emergency to save lives. There was no personal interests or issues with him (Museveni) executing his mandates,” Mr Ankunda said.
The President deployed the UPDF in South Sudan ostensibly to evacuate thousands of Ugandans trapped in the fighting that broke out there last month.

Members of Parliament, who are currently on recess, have accused the President of unilaterally deploying the national army without the approval of the House.
On Thursday, the Speaker received a letter from the President seeking a recall of Parliament from recess to give retrospective authority for UPDF deployment for peacekeeping and possibly peace enforcement operations in South Sudan.

However, Mr Basalirwa insisted the President should have followed the procedures even if there were legitimate national interests to protect.
The State Minister for Defence, Gen Jeje Odongo, told the parliamentary committee on Defence on Friday that the UPDF presence in South Sudan was sanctioned by the states of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development.

fmukisa@ug.nationmedia.com