Surrendering Africa to terrorists in wrong - President
Uganda on offensive against terrorists, AU to go on
July 15th, 2010.
President Yowri Museveni has dismissed claims that the bomb attacks on innocent Ugandans was a result of Uganda sending troops to Somali and rubbished calls for Uganda’s withdrawal from the war ravaged country in the Horn.
“Well, those people are not right. Do you remember ADF? ADF was planting bombs in Kampala in the 1990s and that time we had not sent troops to Somalia. Terrorists are terrorists. They will act against order unless they are stopped. In fact one of the reasons for sending our troops to Somalia was because we knew the character of these types of people. If they had succeeded in taking over Somalia at that time, then they would have been more problems for the region,” he said, adding that “Those who argue that the best way of avoiding trouble is to surrender Africa to terrorists from the middle East are definitely wrong. The correct way is to ensure that the people of Africa enjoy their freedom, which we fought for. We fought for freedom not for slavery from some confused groups in the middle East. Those people are definitely wrong.”
The President Yesterday made a national address on the bombings at a Press Conference he held at his country home in Ruhama, Ntungamo district. The President who had just returned from an anti poverty mobilization in Ntungamo district, said some years ago there were attacks on American on their Embassies of America in Kenya and Tanzania, asking where the Kenyans had sent troops. “Had they sent troops to Somalia or Afghanistan or to Iraq. Why did they attack the Kenyan people or Tanzanians,” he wondered..
The President said they have mobilized the Somali community here to identify those wrong doers. “If you want to know more about a community, then you should work with people from that community. And Somalis in Uganda can help us in knowing more about Somalia.
I appeal to Ugandans not to be hostile to our African brothers from Somalia especially those who are living here. Because some people may misinterpret this to mean all Somalis are involved which is not true. Many of Somali living here are very much involved in the systems of Uganda and they are living well. Many of them have no reason to involve themselves in this type of activities. Therefore don’t look at every Somali living here as if they are connected with this. There are those who are connected, we shall get their details, we already know their leaders in Somalia, they will obviously be indicted for these crimes. Therefore don’t blanket all Somalis in the category,” he said.
The President extended my condolences to the people of Uganda for the death following attack by the terrorists on Sunday. “Within Uganda we are going to weed out any of these elements or loopholes which these people used., The main problem within Uganda was our laxity and liberal atmosphere not to interfere with functions of private people. We never monitor very closely, foreigners who come here. We have been having a bit of free atmosphere and this is what they used,” he said.
The President said they had some information about possible infiltrations by these groups but the information was not exactly the way it turned out to be. “After this incident, the police has been able to alert the population and we are able to weed out these elements. It’s not that difficult because our population guided by police can identify these types of people, Therefore within Uganda, this is not going to be a long term problem. It will and can be stopped,“ he said.
He said the two incidences where a surprise because `we were totally relaxed especially in public areas. In government institutions there were some precautions. The problem with tight security is that it interferes with business and interferes with the tempo of business in the country, so we try to avoid it if we can. That is why you never find roadblocks in Uganda because it interferes with the free flow of business.” he said.
The President however said outside the country in the case of Somalia where these people seem to have come from, the IGAD has already taken a position. “IGAD is going to increase soldiers in the short run by about 2000 or 3000 and then build up strength of force to 20,000 so that we can work with the transitional government of Somalia to eliminate these terrorists. These terrorists are sponsored apparently by some elements in the middle east. We are going to get more information about that. These groups in the Middle East have a wrong and confused orientation both in terms of aims but also in terms of methods,” he said.
The President said that in terms of aims, they seem to aim at very narrow goals, chauvinistic goals, which have caused so much harm in the Middle East which is always a hot bed of extremism, narrow-mindedness and quite futile and directed to sort of violence. When it comes to methods, he said they obviously use terrorist methods.
“Terrorism means when you use violence without discriminating the targets. Targeting non combatants, children and women, people just enjoying themselves, like was what happened the other day. These Middle East groups seem to be the ones pushing their programmes in Somalia which is part of Africa. And this one is not acceptable to IGAD and I believe to the AU. This force in IGAD will be expanded and we shall be able to clean up that place,” he said.
The President said families whose relatives were killed or injured will be assisted while foreign nationals will get support from their respective governments. The compensation process will be implemented after clearance by the Attorney Generals’ office
“When I went to Mulago Hospital, I gave some support there but we shall also support those people whose relatives were killed. As the people of Uganda, we are very, very sad about what happened. We can assure you that we are going to eliminate these groups. They are not many, they are easy to deal with.
About the AU Summit due in Kampala, the President said the summit will take place.
“Africa Union not take place because of this incidence? No! That is all rubbish. The African union summit will take place obviously. There is no way it can be stopped by this incident neither procedurally nor from the point of view of security. If you look at this incident, these people were just attacking people who had no protection at all. They were just there in the open field, that Rugby place is not even a stadium, its open field. The restaurant in Kansanga had no controls there, it was open. But the African Union is not going to take place in a pitch, besides all the pitches are going to be guarded now that we have been aroused. But specifically for the African Union, its’ going to be taking place in very well guarded places. There is no way this incident can stop the AU from taking place,” he said.
The President said given the low levels of Laxity especially since the ADF was defeated there has not been heighted vigilance. “Some people could move from Somalia through Kenya and come, not through normal boarders but panyas. They could even use state parties, they could, but we are investigating all possibilities. But now with the alert, it would be very difficult. In fact we are going to go on the offensive and get those people who were involved in this,” he said.
The President said they had already picked up one of the bombs. “That bomb told us more about these people. This group has really invited us to follow them. In the past we were not bothering with them. We were just in Mogadishu on the mission of the African Union to guard the port, airport and statehouse, that was all. Only when they come to attack us, would we send them back. But now they have mobilized us to look for them. We are beginning to take interest in them. So when I say offensive it is in all areas starting here because we have now got information than before. But obviously, we are now taking more interest in these groups. It was a very big mistake on their side,
The President said the laxity was not just in security services but the whole country once you tell hotel owners to be vigilant. “In past not bothered. When I talk of laxity, don’t think only of security forces, even the society. Security forces can’t be everywhere and they normally work through the structures of the country. If somebody tells hotel owner, guides him on how to provide security to his hotel, these are the gaps am talking about. The restaurant in Kansaga if they were searching people or at the Rugby Club, there was no way these people would have got there. But you know when you do that, you also delay business, there is inconvenience,. That is why people usually don’t want to do it unless it becomes necessary.
The President said the 20,000 soldiers force will be raised. “I think it will be raised especially now because these people have provoked the world more than before. And I can assure you they have invited a lot of problems for themselves.
He said they had not discussed how many troops Uganda should provide. But as IGAD had agreed that they get 2000 or 3000 and later raise it to 20,000. “All the other leaders are looking into this. When we meet for the African Union Summit, that is when we shall know how to move forward. We from IGAD will have a side meeting and know how to move forward,” he said.
About Uganda’s porous borders, the President said even if they guarded the routes, it can’t stop people from crossing.
“The more accurate method is to handle them at terminal points where they are going. Even if they crosses, were will they end up? If we are mobilized like now, we can catch any of these people because you can be sure that the neighbours, will start asking questions. Even if you cross the border from wherever, you will get to where you will be asked questions. And that is the real answer – popular vigilance within the country,” he said.
On whether the terrorists solicited help from Ugandans the president said it was not a good idea to start giving details saying the police will issue a statement. He however said he was encouraged by the course of investigations.
He said those who commit crimes always leave a trail.
“Even if they are getting more sophisticated. It doesn’t make much difference. Sophistication also helps to nail these people,” he said. The President said the NRM never believes that crime or even other actions are community based. “When we were fighting Idi Amin, we never made the mistake of thinking that all the people of West Nile were supporting Idi Amin. And this is where we differed with UPC. UPC in 1980 persecuted the people of West Nile because Amin had come from there. And in fact you remember Idi Amin was trying to use the Muslims in some of the things he was doing.
However, some of the best support whenever I would came here to Uganda from Tanzani to do my clandestine work, most of the time I was staying with Muslim supporters. This was supposed to be a Muslim regime of Idi Amin but Muslims where the ones accommodation me. Abbas Kibazo, Zubair Bakari, my late RDC or Bugiri, Zubair Bakari is the one who used to drive me all over the place. Haruna Kibuye,.. these where all my very close collaborators,” he said.
The President said the idea tha Muslims will be Isolated, is not part of the culture of the NRM. “We believe that each person commits his sins. Personally, when I was in the bush. Obotes people came and arrested my father Mzee Kaguta and took him to the barracks in Mbarara and they beat him. They even arrested my mother took her to the barracks. And they were beating my father, an old man that time he was in late 60s. And they were asking him, where is Museveni? He was also asking them – Do your parents know that you are beating me now? You are now beating me here in Mbarara but do your parents know that you are beating me. I think that Kaguta answer was a classic one,” he said. He said there is no reason why Muslims should be blamed for actions by some individual Muslims. These are crimes by individuals.
On whether he would want to see legal amendments to quickly try such terrorists, the president said cases of people who committee such crimes should be expeditiously dealt with. And I totally agree for us when we were in the bush. At one time I was chief justice of my small area which I was controlling in Luwero. For us Justice was never delayed, justice was prompt. And I could see the good effect it could have on the population. I want to discuss with the chief justice and see how they could really especially for murder, rape, defilement, maybe also terrorism. These are matters that should be handled.
Opposition demands that Security Minister Amama Mbabazi and IGP Kaihura resign over incident
In very advanced countries like the US we had incidences like Septemeber 11. These are a lot of advancesd countries with a lot of means but still you couldn’t rule out what happened. And there are many examples like that. Once incident happening should not be used to condemn permanently some of the actors. Because these bombs have been everywhere, India, Pakistan, different parts of China. China very strict but they had bombs and riots in Urimwinyi some years ago. So you shouldn’t unless it becomes a tendency, but an incident can happen any where can happen anywhere.