|Govt should be clear on Obote- Monitor - 12/4/2005|
|By Prof. Dani Wadada Nabudere|
|Since news broke out that the former President, Dr Apollo Milton Obote, was planning to return home to the country from exile in May, government statements have been rather confused and unclear. I think for government to claim to be a legitimate government able to make policies that stick and command respect generally from the Ugandan public regardless of their political orientation, such a policy must be clear and above board and not subject to the uncoordinated statements from ministers. |
Unfortunately, the picture presented in the panicky responses so far, it is evident that no such policy exists on this issue as well as that of the LRA rebellion in the north. The best that can be said is that there continues to exist a hidden agenda to perpetuate conflict in the country, and perhaps this may be the real government policy that the directionless ministerial statements are intended to cover for it has become a f act of life that politicians in Uganda - old and new - always prefer to "eat in kavuyo" (confusion), which they create for the purpose.
Be that as it may, the contention of the government statement made by the minister of information, Dr Nsaba Buturo, that "Obote must answer for Luweero killings" immediately contradicted the one he had made the previous week, in which he and Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, were reported to have said that the government was ready to welcome Dr Obote back and that once he returned he would be availed the privileges of a former head of state.
Indications of what these privileges would be were also given both in the local press as well as in the East African of last week. All sounded well and marked what appeared to be a spirit of reconciliation in the country.
But then came the reversal. Dr Buturo on Friday April 8, 2005 informed the country that the same government wanted Obote to "answer for the Luweero killings." The immediate question that arose in the minds of many Ugandans who tried to grapple with this new demand was "which killings?" for it is known that many killings by different groups took place in Luweero. The killings in Luweero involved two parties - the NRM and the UNLA.
Many Ugandan soldiers were killed in a battle in which they were victimisers as well as victims. They were fighting for a government in power and "legitimate" in the eyes of those soldiers. They were also regarded by the NRM as illegitimate "killers."
The fact that elections of 1980 were rigged is not at issue here. Because rigged elections should not be answered by "fighting." There are other ways, which other Ugandans, including those in the UPM adopted.
We have also seen that since NRM came to power the problem of rigged elections we saw, especially in 2001, does not have to involve the killing of government soldiers. So there is a problem about the legitimacy of the NRM "struggle" and their role in the killing of the UNLA soldiers on legal, moral and philosophic grounds. This is the truth of the matter, however much the NRM may use the cover of legality because they hold power to overcome this reality.
The killings by the government forces of the rebels were legitimate in as much as they were intended to defend the government in power that was internationally recognised despite the rigging of the 1980 elections. The NRM could only justify its war if the war was national in character and was waged against an illegitimate government regarded to be so by the entire population or at least a sizeable majority of them.
Moreover, it had to be national in the sense that it was not directed against a specific ethnic community. Today, we call such a sectarian war either genocide or ethnic cleansing.
In fact the real purpose of the war was neither the problems of the northerners, nor that of democracy nor that of the return of Muteesa. As we have now seen since Museveni came to power, the real purpose of the Luweero war was for him to win power so that he would put in place a permanent dictatorship not to be challenged again by the "Northerners."
In Appendix 9 of the Report, in section 1 there are 13 cases that were referred by the Commission to the Director of Public Prosecutions for investigation and prosecution; in Section 2 there were 14 cases which had been tried by law courts in different places of the country; and in section 3 there were 14 cases originating from the Human Rights Commission that were referred to the CID for further investigations and action. The point here is that in none of those references was Obote named to have done any killings in Luweero or at any other place in Uganda.
The author is the head of African Study Centre in Mbale Contact:
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