President Yoweri Museveni has credited how the armed forces handled the violent situations in Arua district and Kampala city recently saying it was appropriate in countering “terrorists” who intended to kill people.
The President said this in a letter addressed to Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga in response to concerns she had raised in her recent correspondence to Museveni.
In the letter, the Speaker wondered why the security agencies were sluggish in arresting and reprimanding their personnel who had been responsible for torturing some MPs and brutalizing civilians both in Arua and Kampala.
She said that Parliament will not acquiesce in acts of torture and that if their concerns were not responded to, it was likely to be difficult for the House to conduct its business.
In the days that followed, Members of Parliament demanded that the President responds to the letter, short of which Parliament would not conduct its business. Some of the legislators argued that an attack on one of them was an attack on the whole institution.
Now, in a letter dated August 31, President Museveni has responded to Speaker Kadaga giving a background to the events that occurred in Arua and why the security forces were forced to intervene. He repeatedly refers to the opposition groups as terrorists who unleashed violence on the person of the President as well as civilians during the recent elections.
He recounts how he heard bangs on his vehicle which flies a flag and Presidential standard, only to be told that his vehicle had been hit by two projectiles thrown by the groups in the opposition procession. This occured on the last day of campaigns in Arua, which birthed the alleged rights violations that government is condemned for.
Museveni informs the Speaker that he later ordered the Bridge Commander of the area to work with other security agencies to protect the people of Arua town and their property from possible damage by the so-called hooligans.
But he insists that the security handled the situation with a lot of restraint.
“These are clear signs of remarkable discipline and restraint as exhibited by the armed forces in the UPDF which is a culmination of the last 48 years of dedicated struggle,” Museveni wrote in his letter.
He adds that he is pleased with the way security forces dealt with the riots in Arua and Kampala which he says minimized the loss of life and property.
He says the events that unfolded in Arua and Kampala, need closer study “because a very dangerous situation had been created by the terrorists who appear to have intended to kill a lot of people”.
“I am most pleased with the actions taken by the security forces in dealing with the menace of rioters and minimizing the loss of life and property,” says the President.
He says that security forces are entitled to use of reasonable force in the self defence and when a suspect is resisting arrest.
He also alluded to the violent behavior by the opposition camps during the elections in Bugiri, Jinja East, Rukungiri as well as Arua characterized by assault of civilians and women, murder and ferrying “terrorists” from Kampala to intimidate the locals.
Museveni notes that government will not allow wrong elements to slow down or reverse the gains made by Uganda.
On the issue of why the culpable security personnel who are accused of torturing MPs and some other civilians have not been penalized, Museveni makes note of the investigations recently initiated by the Chief of Defence Forces and the Inspector General of Police.
“The CDF and IGP have following these events come out to clearly state that the armed forces do not condone torture and have instituted investigation committees to get to all facts”.
“It is therefore premature and factually wrong to state that no action has been taken to arrest the wrong doers among security forces,” Museveni told the Speaker.
He also advised the Speaker against the use of the word ‘torture’ until the ongoing inquiry into alleged brutality of security has established the facts.
Museveni used the letter to lash out at international rights defenders whom he labeled “agents of imperialism” and asked them to stop wasting their time on Uganda “which has capable systems and institutions beginning with a competent and professional army”.
Speaker Kadaga has not yet commented on the views of the President.