Monday June 30 2014

Clear mixed up claims on rebel group in north

By Editorial

Government security agencies should stop giving contradictory opinions regarding reports of presence of a new rebel group in northern Uganda. While the police have reported arrests of some members of this so-called God’s Liberation Movement (GLM), the Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) of Lira and Kitgum have dismissed the claims as untrue.

This double speak from the police and RDCs, who oversee security in the districts, confuses the wananchi. Only about two weeks ago, Uganda Police Force’s spokesperson Fred Enanga said a Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) captain and five others were arrested in connection with the newly-formed GLM. But now, northern region police commander Simon Peter Wafana contradicts this and says the initial claims were false. Why should the wananchi then doubt Mr Enanga’s claims when he said the six were arrested following police intelligence reports that they had begun training in Kitgum District? This contradiction defeats reasonable judgment when Mr Wafana now says: “People are mixing up the wave of violent robberies, especially of boda boda motor cyclists with rebel activities. Those are false allegations.”

But Mr Enanga had made it clear to the media that the six are suspected to be behind the shadowy GLM, formed in October 2013. He said the suspects are being detained at the police Special Investigations Unit headquarters in Kireka, Kampala. Mr Enanga said the suspects are the masterminds of the GLM and would be charged with treason and their files have been forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions. He said several police officers, soldiers, and a witch doctor in Gulu have been implicated in the rebel recruitment as well. Mr Enanga also said the funders of GLM were known.
So who is fooling who here when the same security agency sends out mixed up communication to the wananchi?
This mix up of statements only puzzles and does not reassure residents in northern Uganda of peace and security in the region as Kitgum resident district commissioner Santos Okot Lapola says. The conflicting claims and denials of rebel presence by the security overseers confuse the wananchi who are reliant on such official government communication. This consequently renders unwise Lira RDC George Odongo’s threat to arrest anybody who claims there is any recruitment of rebels in the region. But Mr Odongo is correct to assert that the on-going talks on rebel recruitment in Lango and Acholi are causing tension and anxiety among a population exhausted by trauma from a 20-year old war.
These mixed up signals endanger development in northern Uganda. Government should clear the air on GLM and free the community from fear.