The current human rights breaches of abductions, torture and illegal detention put to shame the founding mission of the UPDF.
At inception, the National Resistance Army (NRA), the forerunner of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), was founded on two golden principles of securing democracy, and security of all persons and their properties in Uganda. The NRA/M then rode to power on these promises of a political programme that pledged a better future for the country.
Their promises were: “As soon as NRM takes government, not only will State-inspired violence disappear, but so will even criminal violence. Given democracy at the local level, a politicised army and police and absence of corruption at the top as well as interaction with the people, even criminal violence can disappear. Thereby, security of persons will be restored and so will security of legitimately earned property.”
This golden promise contrasts sharply with current state of affairs in the country. Regrettably, after 36 years in power and through six General Elections, these two codes, masterminded by the National Resistance Movement (NRM) and NRA under the stewardship of President Museveni, are being undercut on the watch of selfsame NRM political wigs and NRA/UPDF High Command.
Today, the Archbishop of Kampala Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, is crying out loud to NRM leaders to stop behaving like the Idi Amin regime (Daily Monitor, February 16, 2021). Deplorably, those citizens abducted are kept in ungazetted places beyond the legally mandated 48-hour within which to be produced and charged in courts of law.
Worse, the denial by the Uganda Police Force of any involvement in the current spate of disappearances and torture of Ugandans, leaves the reputation of the UPDF smeared with filth. These stories of abduction, torture and sometimes being dumped in isolated places, mirror stories that the NRM and NRA told and detested of past regimes of Idi Amin, Milton Obote, and Tito Okello Lutwa.
More pointedly, this call out by Archbishop Lwanga, rhyming with the 44th commemoration of Archbishop Janani Luwum Day, themed: “Life in its Fullness” (John 10:10b), challenges the UPDF to take a hard look back on their mission in NRM’s 10-Point Programme. The army and its leadership have to recast our country’s history.
Then, Archbishop Luwum, with other religious leaders, appealed to Amin to stop the killings of innocent people, to govern the country with justice, and to respect the authority entrusted to them by God. In return, Archbishop Luwum was accused of subversion and the next thing he was announced dead under mysterious circumstances.
But for our leaders, this year’s national commemoration of Luwum Day, at State House Entebbe, can renew their solemn promise to secure lives of Ugandans and their property.