Opinion: Would we ever see an Army Commander in the High Command from the North?

It would have been a sign of reconciliation and leaving the grievances of the past, if the National Resistance Movement (NRM) and the Government of Uganda (GoU) had promoted or made an Army Commander from the Northern Regions. That would have been a message and a resounding one.

I tend to not get emotional or get attached, but there are certain things that would be significant and prove that there is no tribalism or ethnic reasons for the choices made today. Because, right now the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) and the High Command is filled with Westerns and the ones aligned to the tribes surrounding the Presidency. That is just a mere fact and nothing can overshadow that. The same with the leadership of the Uganda Police Force (UPF). Yes, northerns has gotten plum-offices and appointed into high offices politically. However, it haven’t happened in the army and it shows.

I don’t know if Museveni hold grudges or deep resentment. This could be personal to him and he only trust his own “kind”. Even if he says he speaks ill of tribalism and sectarianism. Still, he professes to that in certain aspects of life. That’s why only certain areas has high ranking officials and has the option to be promoted into the High Command of the Army or the Ministry of Defence. It will not be someone from Lango, Acholi or the West Nile. Forget if you are from Apac or Pader for that matter. If you are from Gulu, Lira or Arua. Well, you will not get far in the army and can only be a foot-soldier. You will never reach the ranks or be in the mix for prestige. That’s beholden others by blood or by association. If not that they are coming from right areas of the West and can be pleasing to the UPDF.

That’s how it looks like… I can understand if Museveni has some distrust and lack of empathy. However, the prolonged war in the North. Has cost him and the his areas lots of damage. Yes, the UPDF was able to send Lord Resistance Army (LRA) packing and it is now in exile. However, that war happened because of the choices and the distrust between the “south” and the “north”. Which isn’t strange, as the North had the influence and the Presidency until Museveni came along. Obote and Amin was from the North and their commanders came from there as well.

Museveni has in some regards done the same. He trust his own and chosen this path. Why I am wondering now is that it’s years since peace came to the North. The threats are gone and the lives moves on. The High Command and the UPDF wouldn’t be endangered by a Northerner in the ranks. I think it would be a friendly reminder of how things has changed. That the North and the South can fight together and secure the sovereignty of the Republic. It could be the message and not only appoint northern technocrats to run Ministries or be Speakers of the House. No, give them power where it matters and allow them to deploy guns. That would have been a powerful message and been a proof of the non-sectarianism that Museveni professes too.

Alas, we know Museveni won’t budge or do this. He needs token soldiers and loyal commanders. Certainly, he has issues with it and wouldn’t give way. Some say the idea of Gen. Moses Ali is a proof that he has a broad coalition and allies in the North. Well, Gen. Moses Ali was able to get a deal and has been ally of Museveni ever since. Therefore, that isn’t the same as what I am requesting or hoping will happen.

The UPDF and the Ministry of Defence needs representation. These organizations needs to show all parts of the nation and have leaders from across the spectrum. That is needed, especially if Museveni wants to be unifying and speak with a sincere voice. Unless, he just wants to lie and only does so to please donors. I would certainly believe that and it would make sense. Actually, it would make a lot of dollars and pay of the expenditure of his State House.

I know it would be a shocker to see someone from the Great North appointed or promoted to the High Command. However, it would be a sign of goodwill and of change. That it isn’t a battle between the North and the South. No, that it’s a collective and a nation for all. Peace.

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Opinion: The NRM always got money for bullets…

It doesn’t matter if people cannot afford basic commodities, if people are starving or eating insects up-country. No, for the National Resistance Movement (NRM). A government shows their priorities by where they are spending. The vast spending is either on cronies, political representatives, the State House, Office of the President or the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF). The ones mentioned always has funds or possibilities for supplementary budgets.

That’s why the recent salary enhancement of armed personnel and high ranking officials in the army. Is a sign that this matter to the throne and the ones in-charge. Because, the “high above” himself ordered striking or industrial action of unified teachers to go back to work without anything. They we’re not getting anything and they struggle as is… but soldiers, colonels, majors and generals are all getting a huge pay-off.

The army and armed personnel is a priority. That’s why it’s getting a huge percentage of the yearly budgets. They are already one of the big “ministries” and is one key component of the government at large. That’s why the President and the NRM party calls the UPDF to solve crisis or be a tool to fix utilities. This is why the army isn’t only coming to defend the border from invaders. No, it is building roads and constructions. It is a part of Operation Wealth Creation and going after illegal fishing in Lake Victoria. There is so many parts of government, which involves the UPDF.

The UPDF is also used for oppression. The Court Martial is used as a means to end of silencing critics, activists and even political opponents of the state. Even when the ones charged and taken to court isn’t serving members of the army. Neither do they have any connection with the army. So, they are suddenly just including civilians in military affairs. That’s just what the state does.

Just like the UPDF and their divisions can suddenly interfere in elections and with security around polls. In a by-election or a General Election doesn’t happen without soldiers on the streets. Neither are they far from the tally centres or places of vital importance of the proceedings. That’s just what they do and it’s common practice by now.

We know that the state cannot do with Crime Preventers, Local Defence Units (LDU) or any other sort of trained military personnel for basis of oppression and intimidation. The state needs a vast amount of soldiers and armed personnel at the beacon-call. Because, it isn’t like the NRM is popular or have the people behind it. No, they state needs the guns and the trained soldiers to fight for their causes.

The moment the army is under mutiny and turning on the regime. That’s when you know it’s near it’s end. The moment the generals and the divisions turns on the State House and the ones who is living large there. That moment will strike fear and worse cause a friction, which haven’t been seen in decades. Because, the centre most hold and the commander-in-chief cannot miss the loyalty of his soldiers. They are his base and reason for existing in office. Not the polls or the elections. No, at this point… they are just a vital piece, which makes the NRM alive.

So, no matter if there are inflations, people are struggling and things are getting out of control. As long as the army is supplied, paid and following orders. The President and his men will not fear anything. They are sure they will stay in office for another day and can easily silence anyone who opposes it. That’s why the state is doing this and giving the UPDF a huge pay-off.

We all know the centre most hold and if that falls… the President would worry and wouldn’t be as arrogant, as his known to be. He wouldn’t speak of crushing and the NRA-Way. Since, if the army backs away and stops being a loyal subject to him. The downfall will be eminent and the years of reign would end.

That’s why as the people are feeling the pinch of inflation and lacking funds for basics. The generals and their staff can buy luxurious items. The army can live without any concern and feel secure. The prices can go up, but they have a money-pit of funds to cover that. Which the ordinary citizen, any random civil servant or anyone in the public service can only dream off. That’s because they are not important. They don’t matter in the same regard.

The President needs the army more than he needs the rest of the Republic. As long as he has the army. He knows he can force himself upon anyone and nobody would dare to say otherwise. That’s why the UPDF is getting cash, while the citizens is getting cassava. Peace.

Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF): Salary Enhancement for UPDF Personnel (12.07.2022)

Uganda Peoples’ Defence Force (UPDF): Operation Shujaa Update (05.07.2022)

DR Congo: UN envoy calls for strategy to address root causes of conflict (30.03.2022)

Civilian losses and displacement of populations have increased because of bloody reprisals by Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militants.

GENEVA, Switzerland, March 30, 2022 – Amid deteriorating security in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the top UN envoy in the country has called for a comprehensive political strategy that includes measures to address the structural causes of the conflicts.

Bintou Keita, who heads the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), was briefing the Security Council on Tuesday, on recent developments there.

She said that only three months into this year, nearly 2,300 civilian deaths had been recorded in the country’s eastern provinces. “This is proof of the inherent limits of only having security operations to resolve conflicts,” she said.

Armed groups

Ms. Keita said the security situation in the country’s east has deteriorated despite the joint military operations against armed groups by the national security forces, known as the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC), which was joined by the Ugandan People’s Defence Forces (UPDF).

She said civilian losses and displacement of populations have increased because of bloody reprisals by Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) militants.

In the past three months, there has been an alarming increase in activities by the M23 rebel movement in North Kivu. On Monday, M23 elements carried out horrific attacks, targeting civilians in communities near Rutshuru.

In North Kivu, the situation has worsened because of the use of improvised explosive devices by the ADF. On 11 March, its leadership renewed its allegiance to Da’esh. MONUSCO has also documented a 10 per cent increase in human rights violations and attacks, since last December.

Helicopter crash: Investigation launched

Earlier on Tuesday, the mission reported that a search and rescue operation was underway, after a Puma helicopter lost contact with MONUSCO and crashed in the restive North Kivu region.

Speaking at the regular noon briefing, UN Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, said there had been eight people on board, including six crew members – all from the Pakistani military – and two military personnel – one from Russia, and another from Serbia.

They had been on a reconnaissance mission in the area of Tshanzu, south-east of Rutshuru – the scene of recent clashes between Congolese forces and M23.

“An investigation is underway. We will update you as soon as more information becomes available”, Mr. Dujarric said.

“Our thoughts are obviously with the families and friends of those onboard the helicopter, and all of our colleagues of the UN Mission of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

Civilians increasingly vulnerable

Ms. Keita sounded the alarm in the Security Council over the considerable erosion of the protection of sites for displaced persons as well as frequent attacks against medical services and other civilian infrastructure.

In the face of these security changes, MONUSCO has redoubled its efforts to better protect civilians in Ituri, working jointly with FARDC/UPDF, deploying support units for FARDC to increase the deterrent effect against M23 in North Kivu.

The Mission is also pursuing mobile deployments to protect displaced persons in South Kivu, she said.

However, without a combined approach addressing both the causes and the symptoms, the efforts of both the United Nations and Congolese forces will remain insufficient, she emphasized, adding that in Tanganyika province, the Mission is closely monitoring the evolution of the security dynamics ahead of its scheduled withdrawal in June.

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