The Opposition says it is boycotting today’s events marking the beginning, in 1981, of the NRA guerilla war that eventually brought President Museveni to power because the UPDF is a partisan force.
The Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Mr Nandala Mafabi, and Ms Alice Alaso, the FDC party secretary-general, said the UPDF has digressed from its constitutional obligation of being national in character and non-partisan, and instead indulges in political tangos to entrench President Museveni’s rule.
The army has unleashed lethal force and brutalised peaceful demonstrators; detained, tortured and or killed opposition activists over the past years, Ms Alaso said. This, according to the secretary-general, is happening as some privileged few UPDF commanders leave in luxury at the expense of the foot soldiers.
“It is for the above reasons that we have regrettably decided not to attend the events marking the Tarehe Sita (Army Day) in Kasese (District), said Ms Alaso. “We call upon the government to take urgent steps to correct the way the UPDF is managed, to bring it in line with the dictates of our Constitution.”
The army yesterday confirmed that Mr Mafabi had been invited to the Kasese celebrations in his capacity as Leader of Opposition, but spokesperson Felix Kulayigye said “if they don’t attend, I won’t be surprised.”
“Other than a few individuals, many of the people in the opposition parties are yet to rise above partisan politics, said Col. Kulayigye. “We have no problem with whoever is law-abiding.”
The opposition leaders had levelled the charges against the military during a press conference on the sidelines of FDC’s retreat in Jinja, convened to, among others, evaluate performance of its legislators in the 9th Parliament and draw a strategic action plan.
The Basajjabala juggernaut
Mr Mafabi expressed dismay at the President’s dominance over NRM-leaning legislators after it was reported that Mr Museveni cajoled them during the party’s recent retreat in Kyankwanzi, to suspend planned censure of ministers Khiddu Makubuya (General Duties) and Syda Bbumba (Gender) who were facing censure over their role in inflated compensation to city businessman Hassan Basajjabalaba.
Lawmakers last month began collecting signatures to censure the former Attorney General and Finance Minister named in endorsing the disputed Shs169b payout to Mr Basajjabalaba as compensation for city markets.
“President Museveni does not practice zero tolerance to corruption because he benefits from corruption,” Mr Nandala said.He warned those amassing ‘blood wealth’ that the state will in future seize their property.
The President, who previously denied any role in ordering what he called an exaggerated payout, has reportedly shifted position to say what Mr Basajjabalaba got was commensurate.