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I oppose US sanctions on Gen Elwelu

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Author: Asuman Bisiika. PHOTO/FILE

The day was Wednesday, April 14, 2016. Mr Mike Mukula, Brig Peter Elwelu (now Lt Gen) were on the terrace of Mountains of the Moon in Fort Portal. A UPDF captain from CMI, acting as Mike Mukula’s aide, good-naturedly demonstrated some deference and distance as the two big men talked in measured tones.

I needed to talk to Mr Mukula; so I sort of joined the duo. Mr Mukula was a relaxed man and seemed to be relishing a moment of fulfillment. He had, after all, just brought the king of Bwamba and the king of Rwenzururu to a ‘negotiating’ table and extracted an agreement of peace from them.

I had my doubts and warned Mr Mukula to that effect. I advised him to be cautious over what he thought was a peace agreement between Omusinga of Rwenzururu and Omudingya of Bwamba. The real story though, was actually in the activities before the signing of the so-called agreement. I still remember the spectacle of Mukula running from the conference hall to the hotel reception to personally pick the document on which the said kings would append their signatures.

And then he ambushed a delegation of The Elders Forum of Uganda (TEFU) and Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) to act as custodians and principal witnesses of the agreement.

When the TEFU delegation (I was part of this delegation) sought my opinion about ‘this agreement thing’, I was blunt with them. But of course, advice tendered in private should not be made public by the giver of the advice.

I had been hired by the UNDP to write a paper on the recurring violence in the Rwenzoris. This paper was to be used as a working document for TEFU and IRCU on their mission to resolve the intractable issue of the recurring violence in the Rwenzoris.

The good people at the UNDP (who were funding TEFU and IRCU activities), had asked me to accompany the elders on their tour in the region. Our mission was not in any way associated with Mukula’s; although we both sought peace in the region.


In November 2016 the Kasese killings incident happened. Most of the people who had proximity to the incident were near mute. Even Mr Museveni was not heard playing tough. In fact, he immediately started diplomatically engaging with Rwenzururu war veterans, Rwenzururu royal family, Kasese elders or opinion leaders, Kasese politicians, cultural and traditional leaders, etc.

It is only Lt Gen Elwelu who bragged about the execution of the incident; thereby making himself the face of the Kasese killings incident. “They deserved to die,” he said. As a Division Commander, one would have expected him to create some space for “deniability”.

In addition to Lt Gen Elwelu’s braggadocio, there were other people (locals) who confessed that they masterminded the violence in the region. It was more disturbing that some people in government were taking the confessions seriously. But Mr Museveni seems to have known the truth about these guilty confessors. That’s why he did not call for their prosecution. And needless to say, he (Museveni) also knew the interests of the politicians who organised the confession engagement.

The only charge I personally laid against Elwelu was what in Kinshasa we call kobeta tolo (chest thumping or bragging). On that charge, I have personally forgiven Lt Gen Elwelu. That’s why I ask the US government to (also) forgive him and withdraw the sanctions on the good general. Unless kobeta tolo is the reason behind US sanctions against our talksome man. 

Asuman Bisiika is the executive editor of the East African Flag Post.  [email protected]