The Chief of Defense Forces General Katumba Wamala says the army’s role in the February 18 election is to preserve peace, not to shoot people.
Though not related, his remarks come on the heels of the National Resistance Movement secretary general Justine Lumumba’s warning on January 24 that the state would shoot to kill whoever would protest the results of the February 18 election.
A week after she said so, the assistant Resident District Commissioner of Jinja Mr Erick Sakwa, too, said whoever would disrupt the election would be shot.
Both warnings provoked public outrage, because shooting, instead of arresting and charging the suspects, would be extrajudicial.
While at a televised public dialogue on peaceful elections today, Gen. Katumba said the military could draw lessons from history.
“The motto of the army college I went was ‘Not to promote war but to preserve peace’. So we go to war colleges not to learn to kill people or to go to look for wars but to preserve peace. There is nothing as important as peace,” Gen. Katumba said.
He said he would not want to see Ugandans flee the country on account of election–related violence.
“Why should we choose chaos? We have been there before. I don’t think we envy those other countries where chaos is prevailing now. I don’t think any of us envies Libya…What happened in Kenya [in December 2007 to February 2008 when about 1, 500 Kenyans died in post–election violence] should not happen in Uganda,” Gen. Katumba said.
Relatedly, earlier today, President Museveni assured Ugandans of peace during and after the election.
Mr Museveni, who is the NRM’s presidential candidate, claimed it is the political opposition that is sowing panic in the public.
“They know we are going to beat them by a big margin. So they want people to think there will be chaos; so they should remain at home. No one can disturb the peace,” he said during a press conference.
Violence is one of the reasons to which voter apathy in the previous elections is attributed.