With the recent by-elections in Rukungiri, Bugiri and now in Arua. There been so much election violence and even killings in all three. There been enough of the army and mambas in the street, to intimidate the public. While the army and police are busy arresting opposition leaders and also activists. Therefore, the levels of arrests are over dozens, scores and in such levels that it has to hit about 20 and above to be right. This is what happens under President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. He is acting like President Milton Obote did in the 1980s. The second term of Obote was filled with arbitrary arrests, violence, torture and killings by the authorities. Now in the 2018, the Museveni regime is acting like them.
“The President allows a legal opposition party (the Democratic Party), and Obote seems to be trying to make parliamentary government work. However, opposition MPs for a time were arrested and detained. In a new-year amnesty, Obote allowed four MP detainees to be released; some 1,000 other detainees were released recently as well. The MPs, who had been accused of ‘‘connection with acts of violence,” were received personally by Obote” (John Worrall – ‘Uganda registers modest gains under Obote’ 04.01.1982 link: https://www.csmonitor.com/1982/0104/010442.html).
“Obote, moreover, has denied that any civilian detainees are being kept in military barracks. Yet he has not allowed officials of the International Committee of the Red Cross to inspect the suspected military barracks. “There are no detainees in military barracks,” Obote said in an interview. “There are no detainees who are tortured or murdered or killed in any way in government custody.” A 1982 report by the human rights group Amnesty International and a U.S. State Deparment report released earlier this year support allegations of civilian detentions, widespread abuses of human rights and killings carried out by soldiers in the military barracks. Well-informed western diplomats, one Ugandan government official who declined to be identified and political opposition leader Ssemogerere said abuses directed at civilian detainees is continuing in the Army’s barracks” (Leon Dash – ‘Brutality Marks Army’s Conduct in Uganda’ 29.11.1983, link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1983/11/29/brutality-marks-armys-conduct-in-uganda/342af52f-fbdc-4491-a399-208124c677db/?utm_term=.a95022d4262a).
“Soon after Obote’s inauguration speech, civil war erupted when two groups of his political competitors, both of whom charged Obote with fraudulently winning the December 1980 election, retired to the countryside surrounding this capital of Kampala and began waging a guerrilla war. The Army has recently managed to put the insurgents on the run, but political assassinations and the detention without trial of nonviolent politicial critics of the government have escalated as the war has died down. On Oct. 25 unknown gunmen abducted Mary Luswata, the chairman of Obote’s Uganda People’s Congress party in a district 80 miles from here, plus three members of the party’s youth wing and three party supporters. They were found shot to death two days later nearby” (Leon Dash – ‘Violence Poisons Political Process Within Uganda’ 01.12.1983, link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/politics/1983/12/01/violence-poisons-political-process-within-uganda/1d4a504d-d186-4100-ba19-971dbaa4c577/?utm_term=.321bf5362f86).
Militarism under both rulers:
“Although a small incident, (and indeed much larger incidents might have been cited), it has all the ingredients of militarism. “We fought for you” singles oult the “military” contribution to liberation to the denigration of all other kinds of contribution (including political) which people made towards the downfall of Obote’s dictatorship. It also becomes a “license” in the hands of the men in uniform to treat “you civilians” with derision and contempt. Although NRA’s record, compared to the that of Obote’s UNLA, has been generally impressive, this was so as long as they were in the bush, and did not enjoy “state power”. Now that they enjoy state power, their “militarism” is coming to the surface. Earlier in the same week that the above incident happened at Walukuba, soldiers burst into the house of the editor of the Weekly Topic (a paper that is critically sympathetic to Museveni), and searched his house, as also the office of his brother, a former Member of Parliament. Later they arrested a few people in the area who previously had UPC connections. All this was done without informing the Resistance Councils of the area, thus undermining their authority and relevance in matters of “high security”. When criticized, the NRA is consistently defended by Museveni on the same grounds that “they fought for you”. It is clear that Museveni derives his legitimacy and authority more from his army than from the political efforts of “the civilians”. The RCs with all their weaknesses analysed earlier, are nonetheless never likely, under Museveni, to acquire political control over the army, and hence militarism is likely to remain, as under Obote, the hallmark of Museveni’s regime” (Yash Tandon – ‘Elements of Continuity and Change Between Obote and Museveni: Some Lessons from Obote’s Rule for Musevents Government’ 01.01.1987, link: https://escholarship.org/content/qt667686n5/qt667686n5.pdf).
We can see now, that the ones that President Museveni overthrow for the betterment of the republic, he has become alike. He might not have arrested 1000 opposition leaders at the same time, but over the years he has detained, arrested and charged more than I can count. He has done the same during the recent days and even within this year. The NRM are acting as the previous leadership did. They are torturing opposition MPs, they are arresting them and also showing violence towards the public.
Right now, there are more and more similarities between Obote II and Museveni of now. The 1980s Uganda and current Uganda isn’t that much different. Only, that the public have smart-phones and the reports are spread without the central government control like in the 1980s. That is why we will know quicker and the reports will make sense. This is information sharing the authorities cannot control. That is why we knew of the violence in Rukungiri, Bugiri and in Arua.
Museveni’s ways of control is looking more like Obote… therefore, the bush-war is more and more pointless. As he is acting like the ones he overthrow. Not only overstaying and being an arrogant prick, but also being reckless, relentless and destroying people’s lives to stay in power. Using state sponsored violence to control the public.
The Ugandan people deserves better, all the lives lost are now just pawns in the eyes of the ones who had hope in the 1980s for something better for their kids. They fought and celebrated the fall of Obote II, but instead they got someone who was as brutal as him. Using the same force and same methods to stay in power.
It isn’t beautiful, not planned to be. It is just a cynics way of staying in power. Peace.