“I will not say the fact that there are no European Union observers at an election means that it will not be fair and free” – Olesegun Obasanjo
In the midst of and in the end of the pre-election period 2016; the town of Kampala went into turmoil. The Military Police and ordinary Police went into a violent streak. That manifested itself at Jinja Road which turned into a war-zone like scenario; as in the aftermath the blood of the hurt and the diseased. Visible was the empty shells, the dust and dirt, even metal-boxes as murals of the tear-gas.
As the Police used force and hurt people to the extent that some blood touched the scorched earth and dust; the people in the area scattering in fear while the police continue to push them away as the resilience to the violence committed by the state. The sounds of bullets and metal hits the ground makes the tarmac shake. People we’re running; mixed sounds of shoes knocking grounds while the sounds of gas flowing into the air as the area goes from being casual to pink.
This is the signs and scenes of the 15th February in Kampala. The reactions and chaos as the Police went into the procession of Forum for Democratic Change to the planned rally at Wandegye and Makerere. So the continuation of violence from the state security outfits as the military, the police and the military police; as they have been tools in the machine hurting the public as they want to greet the opposition leaders in the sub-counties, towns and districts. There been steady violence against from the Police as the execution of the Public Order Management Act is more used then paper-towels at the Police Headquarters in Kampala. The sadness is all the hurt people and shot people during the pre-election period.
The reason why I got into Ugandan Politics was because I became a board-member or council member in a project supporting and building a library in the town Uvira in Southern Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Later I became an exchange student to Uganda. Where I read the Daily Monitor and the New Vision Daily; that together with the books I had read about the adventures of UPDF in DRC, I was still ignorant about the politics there. But the moment after staying in Uganda for month changed it for me.
What changed me:
I was on the way with a group going for a training conference in Mbale. On the way we stopped at a Total or any gas-station. While the Hiace we’re getting fuel. I was looking around the area as I lived in Kampala was curious about the environment. This was on the road and no big place. We had passed Mabira forest, but were not too far on the road to the bigger Eastern town. As I was looking it was this GIANT ad for NEW VISON. And saying something similar to this: “‘I am the only one with a vision” and “Publishing the Vision every day”. When I saw that and hadn’t thought well about it. I asked polity with a grin: “Are they serious, only one man with a vision?” The little moment of silence before he answered me: “You can say that, but I can’t; and please not speak about it”. That ate me and made me wonder; why we couldn’t speak about the wonders of the” man with a vision” in public by a gas-station. And why he wouldn’t’ say anything and asked me to not speak about it. On the broad daylight without anybody near us; hours later on the same day we would be stopped by Police and had to convoy to nearest police station; reason missing valid insurance card in the window. The same brother who wouldn’t want to speak about politics gave the Police men some money because of the hunger of the Police men. The first introduction to the bribery culture of East Africa! This day was an eye opener for me. How he could not speak his mind and question the one man with the vision that The New Vision printed his Vision every single day. I started to questioned the vision that they printed every single day.
The election violence in Uganda is massive and has been in all corners of Uganda. In Kabale, Soroti, Jinja, Maska, Ntungamo, Rukungiri, Bukwo and so on. More than twice in Kampala as when Hon. Erias Lukwago started his campaign the Police shot a Journalist when he was planning to campaign. Later was the election violence ushered in by the Police before FDC campaign convoy could come to Makerere Rally on 15th February. The was violence at Jinja Road and at Wandegeya as they demonstrated that Dr. Kizza Besigye wasn’t allowed to campaign there. There been so many times during the calendar-year as the consultation meetings and also campaign rallies has been shut down by the Police and Army. Even campaign venues has been closed for the opposition leaders, while days before been open for NRM and President Museveni as Makerere, Kyambogo and Lira where opposition leaders at one point was not allowed to take part.
There is so many malfunctions and hurt people by the way the government security outfits has hurt both emotionally and bodily hurt that they have inflicted during the recent time. As the canisters and the left clothes is still lying in the corners of the streets. As they did in days after the Rukungiri where the FDC cars was demolished and the police shredded a woman’s respect.
The bullets and the tear-gas towards the general public is not an security issue, but an democracy issue, freedom of speech issue, and issue of trust between the public and the security organs. As the Electoral Commission is not trusted as the high payed leadership prays on the loyalty towards the regime. The NRM electoral Commission is highly flawed and the reactions to the primaries has been burning offices and membership cards, that was even happening in Nakawa Division as the Police turned against the happy celebrating people looking forward to be parts of Besigye’s rally that day. The result of the tear-gas and dispersing of the public instead of proving any steady progress! So the certified message is the tarnishing the venues of opposition while the ruling party keeps up as business as usual.
As my brother told me that day, that I should be silent and not talk about; I feel it still is the same and the reports make it feel the same; as the opposition has not the same rights as the ruling party. The violence ensures the fear and insecurity of a volatile state instead of bringing the positive changes the government might already have brought. Without the Police State and the Militarization of the Politics it might even brought in other type of investments that could have raised the economic climate in the country. As the export of natural resources and natural products instead of finished products and industry; as the assembled industry happens in other parts of the world, it could been in Uganda if the Government tried to pull that in and facilitate it or even used stronger Co-Operations between farmers to bring educating to earn more and yield better quality agricultural output instead of ending struggling to get the maize and matooke to the market. That is not bringing the men with cash-money in (to invest).
Certainly the fear and semi-democratic environment isn’t making the bargain, the talk I had with my brother; I am sure people are still having today even in the midst of the polls that starts in hours-time. As the conversation stays put in my mind and still eats my heart out. The issue of not letting the truth out or speaking their mind out; as the people has to stay put and silent as the ruling regime does as it please. Only giving away money to the villagers in pre-elections period to buy the votes, but when the ballots are gone, the representatives are long gone and forgotten the promises like old-sweethearts who never got the ring. The same seem to be with the talk of choice of the people and the right to speak your mind.
My brother and the conversation is why I am focused on Uganda Politics, as I can’t help that he didn’t have the ability to even comment the “only one man with a vision” paradigm in the country. The canisters and the shattered metal should not be stories. The blood and the toil of the people should not be story of the elections. The story shouldn’t be sad as the violence and spoken fear from the ruling party as they have the only man who can control the army and run the government; as the opposition doesn’t have the manpower to do so; which is lie the ruling party lives on. The ruling party uses security outfits to hurt the public and blame the opposition parties for their activities to deflect the issues of the campaign. Christopher Aine the diseased security agent for Hon. Amama Mbabazi the now opposition leader is the epitome and manifestation of government violence against civilians together with the one that lost his life on the streets of Kampala on the 15th February. Two people who have lost their life for a struggle that is far from over. The Democratic values is rendered down by time and cronies that has spoiled the potential as the movement system turned into the big-man system built with the head-of-state deciding it all; while giving when needed and taken the rest for himself or to his loyal fellows. This here together with the semi-autonomous and militarized politics as there so many former military men in the parliament the public knows the value of the elected or hand-picked men from on top is on the scale they can follow the chain-of-command instead of delivering the pledges and governmental service they deserves.
As it ate my heart out when my brother said he couldn’t talk about it years ago. It hurts to see the same state of affairs and struggles still, and it continues. It is time to let it pass and move to the next level of democratic values; and also good governance with state institutions serving the public instead of making the government officials fat and rich. That is not why the state and government exists; they exist because they supposed to serve the public, not for the governmental officials to take the money supposed to go. The same with the Security Organization as the Police and the Army, they follow the orders up high instead of serving the people and generating peace. As we saw on 15th February Kampala the Military Police didn’t secure the public, but made the citizen in fear and hurting them instead. That is the hurting to hear again and again, as the day is different, the place is different, but the opposition party and supporters are the ones in the cross-fire getting hurt for supporting the leaders of opposition instead of the old-man with the hat.
I never want to hear in any state that you can’t comment towards a ruling party, when that happens I know something is wrong. And knowing it still is like that with the canisters in the streets, the burned yellow membership cards in the bins and the people getting healed after police violence. The families losing their loved ones during the calendar year should not only vote, but only mourn the loss of the valuable people who was a part of the struggle to gain true freedom and respect for the people; as they now are now in invisible chains as the government keeps them tight knit in fear and in a police state using the militarized politics that ate my heart that day and haven’t let go. As I also understand is that the people who has lost their family members because of political affiliation; I understand if they don’t want to do their civic duty, still we all should and shall not forget the people who died for the cause. As we should not forget the people who are jailed and detained for following a political belief that counter the ruling-party and the NRM-Regime. And it wont until change that gives progression and let the accountability; the true transparency and let the will of the people shine as the template of the representatives that deserve to work-hard to be there for the citizens. Something that not been important, what has been is to be loyal to cadre-line and to Mzee! Peace.
Here today I am going through some worrying reports, the leaked note I have read, have been discussed in other media, therefore my article is thicker and deeper. As I want to show the results and responses of the governmental officials from Burundi and Rwanda on the matter. Some of it should be expected, as Rwandan response would never say that actually tried to topple President Pierre Nkurunziza, which President Kagame could have that in him, would not be new considering how he together with Uganda President Museveni went and toppled Mobutu Seko Seko.
The recent news has also been questioned by some sources; I will add that tape in the end where that journalist asks if it is manufactured. You can have your take on it. The matter of violence that President Kagame has in the past and near present time in DRC, he could have had the capacity to pull it off. He has it in his veins just like President Museveni. Therefore we should not be shocked if this is facts and that the Burundian authorities is aggravated, the way the Burundian government has gone against their own opposition is not a just, but the cause of stopping a neighboring country trained militia or guerilla force should be reasonable. That proves the fragile situation in Burundi and that behind the scenes the powers around try to earn coins on it. Here take a look!
Training of militia to topple Nkurunziza:
“The Group spoke with 18 Burundian combatants, not associated with the Front National de Liberation (FNL) in Uvira Territory of South Kivu Province. They told the Group that they had been recruited in the Mahama Refugee Camp in eastern Rwanda in May and June 2015 and were given two months of military training by instructors, who included Rwandan military personnel, in a forest camp in Rwanda. Their training included military tactics and the maintenance and use of assault rifles and machine guns, as well as ideological and morale-building sessions. Some told the Group that they were also trained in the use of grenades, anti-personnel and anti-tank mines, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. They were transported around Rwanda in the back of military trucks, often with Rwandan military escort. The Burundian combatants told the Group that there were least four companies of 100 recruits each being trained at the camp while they were there. Six of the trained combatants that the group spoke with were minors. They told the Group that the military training instructors at the camp knew that they were minors. The Burundian combatants showed the Group fake DRC identification cards that had been produced for them in Rwanda, so they could avoid suspicion while in the DRC. They crossed the Rusizi River in small groups at night from Rwanda into the DRC just south of the Kamanyola border post, with the assistance of a network based within the DRC. Like the FNL, they reported that their ultimate goal was to remove Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza” (UN, 2016).
Arms to the trained militia:
“Several individuals were arrested in October to November 2015 in Goma, North Kivu Province, on suspicion of involvement in arms smuggling from the DRC to other countries. The perpetrators are Rwandan or Congolese nationals and were caught at the Congolese-Rwandan border post with the weapons. Some of the weapons were hidden in bags of green beans or manioc, and other were hidden in the chassis of a car. The Group interviews the perpetrators some of whom confirmed the weapons were to be used in support of armed groups in Burundi” (UN, 2016).
Burundian embassy to Hauge stated this:
“Burundi welcomes the fact that the international community is beginning to discover that the source of the insecurity afflicting Burundi is Rwanda. Information available to the government of Burundi and credible information from some media (France 24) and investigative reports by some International Experts, including UN Experts have confirmed that Rwanda which is a neighboring country to Burundi recruits, trains and arms Burundian citizens including minors in the MAHAMA Refugees Camp in Rwanda and sends them into to the territory of Burundi to commit armed attacks against civilians, security and military targets” (…)” We know that some countries and some components of the international community have suspended or even stopped economic cooperation in order to force the democratically elected institutions by the sovereign people of Burundi and validated by the national and sub-regional judicial powers to submit and hand over power to anti-democratic Burundian forces. On the basis of credible information pointing to unprovoked acts of hostility and destabilization sponsored by Rwanda and executed by the violent opposition as the direct causes of the violence in Burundi, the Burundi Embassy in The Hague urges the countries which suspended economic cooperation with Burundi to review their positions” (Diplomat Magazine, 2016).
Burundi response to the news:
“The CNDD-FDD Party condemns Rwanda over its neocolonial purposes for having implemented the plan of Burundi occupation so as to lead the country through an ethnical vision which Paul Kagame would have used as he had done it during the period of FPR Inkotanyi . The Burundian democrats remind him that if there had been no complicity and the politico –military support of the MINUAR, the FPR -Inkotanyi would have never taken the power in Rwanda and Paul Kagame has made use of genocide, sacrificing his own brothers to take the power. It is what he wanted to do in Burundi, while outrageously overusing the word genocide as experienced in his country” (…)”It is also unbelievable that the aggressor KAGAME has never been blamed by organizations such as the African Union, the United Nations , the European Union and other international organizations and that on the contrary, most of those organizations and States have not done nothing but connived, imposing him an international force. Burundian People cannot be mistaken taking into consideration what MINUAR has done to help Kagame take the power. KAGAME wanted and want to apply the same experience he has lived in his country. He has created a rebellion under the blessing of some politico- mafia settings among others Louis Michel, and his friends to bring back the G7 and the G10 of Buyoya to the power by the cheating of a putsch and a government of transition. Therefore, the dangerous use of the word genocide and ethnic are nothing but shields for those pseudo nostalgic politicians with bad ideas” (Nyabenda, 2016).
Burundian Opposition claims:
”The opposition Burundi Democratic Rally (Radebu) chairman Jean de Dieu Mutabazi echoed the remarks, saying Rwanda was behind the war in a sister EAC member state and was worsening the unrest that has so far claimed hundreds of lives. “There’s this neighbour of ours, Rwanda, under the warmonger President Paul Kagame, who has been fighting in DR Congo and recently wanted to fight Tanzania,” Mr Mutabazi charged. “He is the one providing arms and logistical support to the rebels attacking Burundi.” Jacques Bigirimana, president of the FNL party, said although the belligerents were keen on national dialogue in a bid to end the political crisis, the country was under siege from what he termed as “destabilisation forces sponsored by Rwanda” (Ihucha, 2016).
“Last December, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame dismissed as “childish” allegations that Rwanda had stoked instability in Burundi and said Rwandan troops would play no part in any intervention in the neighbouring country” (Ihucha, 2016).
Rwandan Foreign Minister counters the report:
“Speaking to reporters on Friday, Louis Mushikiwabo, Rwanda foreign minister said that allegations were baseless and lies. “Rwanda hosting a big number of Burundian refugees in various refugee camps in the country does not mean training them to overthrow Burundian government? We cannot chase them back to their home country if they are not sure of their safety. Burundian government is in better position to look for a possible lasting solution to bring peace in Burundi,” she said” (China.org.cn, 2016).
MONUSCO statement recently:
“The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has sovereign and primary responsibility for the protection of its citizens. MONUSCO stands ready to support the Government in these efforts, in line with its mandate to protect civilians. In this regard, MONUSCO welcomes the Government’s acceptance of the Mission’s proposal to resume coordinated offensive operations, which resulted in an agreed arrangement for military cooperation on 28 January 2016. With regard to cooperation with the FARDC, MONUSCO is confident that the measures put in place with the Government to mitigate risk and provide appropriate monitoring where necessary will ensure that MONUSCO-supported operations against ADF, FDLR and other armed groups are undertaken in line with the United Nations Human Rights Due Diligence Policy” (MONUSCO, 2016).
EALA statement on Burundi:
“Leontine Nzeyimana, Minister for EAC Affairs in Burundi however included a mix of representatives from government, political parties, and civil society. On her part, the minister noted: “As it has been happening in Burundi since the early 1960’s, the electioneering period was marked by negative propaganda intended to create in Burundi a political and institutional instability” (…)”The importance of this crisis to the EAC, the Report added, was brought home by accusations leveled against a Partner state by the Government-led delegation. Except for one Report, the delegation was unable to provide adequate evidence to the Committee to validate the claim that the Republic of Rwanda is hosting and militarily training Burundi refugees” (EALA, 2016).
The promised youtube-clip:
There is lots of statement that is hard to verify or grasp. Certainly all of the actors have a place in the motions and want to achieve something to prove their worth. The Government of Burundi is the one that is under fire, and for the moment they will be as long as the attacks on the opposition and way to civil war is continuing, while the refugees goes into DRC, Tanzania and Rwanda, even in Uganda.
The conflict and crisis has made the inter-dialogue stifled and the African Union hasn’t made any progress on the issues in the country. While Rwandan government might have seen it as it golden hour; as they saw it in the DRC back in day. So here we are in this day where Burundi is a pawn while the Government and Burundian National Forces, does not only fight their own public to stay in power, but might also fight against foreign trained forces; which it might happen and wouldn’t surprise me as the history of President Kagame lingers on. As he centers more and more power in Rwanda around himself in neo-Museveni way, he looks more and more like President Museveni, just a Rwandan counter-part. So President Nkurunziza is under fire and has a lot of work to generate peace, but this seems like a way to get there.
The results of this are that we can question if the Rwandan government wanted to bring down the Government of Burundian one. If not so the United Nations wanted this to slip out so their wish for peacekeepers could gain foothold in the UN Headquarters in New York, as they have seen the African Union have given-up the direct African answer to the conflict. Peace.
China.org.cn – ‘Rwanda dismisses UN report on training Burundi rebels’ (05.02.2016) link: http://www.china.org.cn/world/Off_the_Wire/2016-02/06/content_37747742.htm
Diplomat Magazine – ‘Burundi’ statement on current situation’ (05.02.2016) link: http://www.diplomatmagazine.nl/2016/02/05/25834/
East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) – ‘EALA concerned about Republic of Burundi’ (05.02.2016) link: http://www.eac.int/news-and-media/press-releases/20160205/eala-concerned-about-republic-burundi
MONUSCO – ‘Press Statement of MONUSCO Regarding Operations Against Armed Groups in Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo’ (02.02.2016) link: http://monusco.unmissions.org/Default.aspx?tabid=10662&ctl=Details&mid=15045&ItemID=21686&language=en-US
Nyabenda, Pascal – ‘The 26th summit of the African Union Heads of State has proven that they have understood, Burundian People is deeply indebted to them’ (02.02.2016) Chairman of CNDD-FDD
Ihucha, Adam – ‘EALA declines to summon Rwanda over rebel claims’ (30.01.2016) link: http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/EALA-declines-to-summon-Rwanda-over-rebel-claims/-/2558/3055230/-/76bvilz/-/index.html
United Nations – ‘Security Council Committee Established Persuant to Resolution 1533 (2004) Concerning the Democratic Republic of Congo – !5th January 2016 (S/AC.43/2016/GE/OC.2) – Gaston Gramjo