Uganda: Killing Spree As Gen. Museveni Regime Fears Election Defeat

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One of the bodies of suspected victim of regime death squad operative. Resort owners reject police explanation that victims "drowned" after holiday celebrations

[Commentary]
 
A specter of darkness is hanging over Uganda as the long-ruling dictator Gen. Yoweri Museveni senses the smell of defeat at the coming national elections scheduled to take place on February 18, 2016.
 
The massive show of support for the opposition across Uganda with hundreds of thousands of people appearing at campaign rallies, even in the remotest villages, suggest that Gen. Museveni might lose outright to one of the opposition leaders, or, in the event of a second round, to a combined opposition front led by the opposition leader with most votes. This has triggered a ruthless countrywide clampdown of the most violent nature, leading to deaths, wanton arrests and kidnappings of large numbers of opposition activists. 

We hope the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague is keeping close watch so as to avoid the bloody debacle we saw in Kenya in 2007 - 2008. Perhaps a statement by the court is in order.
 
Confidential reports from within the regime’s security services and Museveni’s own state house confirm that the Ugandan dictator has ordered his son Brigadier Muhoozi Kainerugaba commander of the Special Forces, which is the praetorian guard, and Museveni's ruthless police commander General Kale Kayihura, to eliminate political opponents to prevent the increasingly popular opposition from capturing power in the February elections.
 
Already a string of murders has taken place, confirming the fears of Uganda citizens that Gen. Museveni, who has ruled the East African country with an iron fist for 30 years, is not prepared to leave power in the event of defeat by an emboldened and increasingly popular opposition, now headed by the massively popular FDC party flag-bearer Dr. Kizza Besigye and Mr. Amama Mbabazi, the former Prime Minister and Secretary General of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party who abandoned the ship to save Uganda from conflagration.

Mr. Mbabazi's camp fears one of his senior aides Christopher Aine, the youthful head of the security team guarding candidate Mbabazi may now be dead after Police chief Gen. Kayihura announced a reward of almost $6,000 for his whereabouts (this is four times Uganda's per capita income which is about $1,500 so it would be the equivalence of a $200,000 bounty in the United States), which is like placing a bounty on his head.

Aine was last seen during a fight that occurred in Ntungamo, the birth place of Gen. Museveni, when a Mbabazi convoy was ambushed by groups of specially mobilized Museveni agents and supporters. His whereabouts are unknown. The purported "reward" could also be diversionary tactic from a police commander who knows that his operatives are involved in whatever has happened to Aine.

Now the latest reports are that Mr. Mbabazi could boycott the race due to the election violence by Gen. Museveni's agents.
 
While Dr. Besigye has been focusing on combing the countryside for support to add to his well-established urban following, Mr. Mbabazi is credited with denting Gen. Museveni’s support within the NRM party, mainly by rendering the party’s administrative and organizational infrastructure inoperable. Even Museveni’s own trusted insiders now concede that the NRM party secretariat and its local administrative infrastructure is weak and infested with divisions due to the Mbabazi factor. Mbabazi, who was one of the most trusted allies of Gen. Museveni was fired for showing signs of wanting to stand for the party’s leadership by challenging Gen. Museveni, who appointed himself the NRM's sole candidate for the presidential run.

Besides, the dangers posed to the Museveni dictatorship by an invigorated political opposition, the ailing regime has suffered serious body-blows by the emergence of another front of radical opposition in form of Gen. David Sejusa’s Free Uganda (FU), which has been working behind the scenes to undermine Gen. Museveni’s capacity to govern and to effectively organize his vote-rigging and repressive machines in ways that have managed to subdue the political opposition in the past.
 
Gen. Sejusa is the founding Chairman of FU, which has focused on building the capacity of all opposition forces, including political opposition, to resist Gen. Museveni’s violent repression and intimidation. This has involved systemic empowerment of opposition activists, including the leadership of political parties, with strategic and tactical approaches meant to overpower the known rigging and suppression techniques being deployed by Gen. Museveni and his principal aides Gen. Kayihura and Brigadier Kainerugaba.  


In the face of the most formidable opposition to his regime in the 30 years of his rule, Museveni has now fallen back onto his entrenched repressive instincts, marshaling whatever coercive forces and killer squads he can lay his hands on to shore up his defenses and characteristically attempt to destroy the growing chances of the determined and emboldened opposition to win in the elections.  

And so, mass killings, ordered by a desperate and clearly disoriented Museveni, are going on targeting all sections of society. These killings are the direct result of public pronouncements by Museveni, in which he threatened to smash any opposition attempts to wrestle power from him. These pronouncements were followed by a rushed assemblage of a huge number of militia and paramilitary formations, which have seen hundreds of thousands of youths, the so-called Crime Preventers, recruited and trained for the sole purpose of fighting and suppressing opposition supporters into submission.

 
In the closing weeks of 2015, Ugandans were shocked to see gruesome pictures of more than a dozen dead youth which, according to the local media, were found lying on the beaches of Lake Victoria. These chilling images of the dead were published in the papers and widely posted on Internet not long after the regime acknowledged arresting hundreds of youth activists belonging to various political parties and pro-democracy campaign groups. The youths were rounded up by state agents in operations led by Gen. Kayihura and Brigadier Kainerugaba.
 
Ugandan local newspapers have been full of stories about increasing suspicions that the Museveni regime may be liquidating some of the arrested and kidnapped youths, in order to sow fear and intimidate the rest of the population so that they do not support the political opposition in on-going election campaigns.
 
Even the owners of the beach entertainment spots near where the bodies of the dead youths were discovered have ridiculed the Museveni regime's explanation that the youths may have drowned after celebrating the holidays in the various locations along the lake coastline.

According to the independent The Daily Monitor owners of the resorts "said they believe bodies could have been brought from different areas and dumped near their beaches or drifted with the lake waves from afar."

A former state house intelligence officer, Charles Rwomushana, has also bluntly argued that even just by the look of the dead bodies of the youths found on the beaches, whose stomachs were not extended as would normally be when people drown and stay in the water for a while, it is already possible to conclude that those bodies were brought from somewhere else and damped on the beaches overnight to create an impression that they had drowned.

Other youth activists, for example Sam Mugumya, a close aide to FDC presidential candidate Dr. Besigye, was kidnapped, together with a number of other FDC party activists, by a joint Ugandan and Democratic Republic of Congo military squad and relocated to the DRC Congo, where they now languish in a military prison reportedly in very poor health, having endured beatings, torture and even starvation in captivity.

Earlier, last year, several Muslim leaders were killed in motorcycle drive-by shootings across Uganda; these were also suspected to have been carried out by Gen. Kayihura's operatives.

Ugandans recall the unresolved death of the late member of Parliament Ms. Cerinah Nebandah, a brave and vocal critic of dictator Museveni.

The most recent questionable death was that of Gen. Aronda Nyakairima, the Minister of Internal affairs.

Gen.  Aronda had complained about the fraudulent identity card program the Internal Affairs ministry.
With the introduction of a universal ID card system, Gen. Museveni had hoped to inflate the numbers of his potential supporters by issuing Ugandan IDs to foreigners, while denying the same to  suspected opposition sympathizers. General Aronda, as minister responsible for the issuance of the IDs was known to have opposed this scheme.  He had also opposed the creation of para-military groups by people like Major Kakooza Mutale for purposes of violently quashing any opposition victory in the elections through violence and intimidation.

Gen. Museveni’s regime is killing Ugandans with impunity. If this was Gen. Idi Amin, the whole world would be up in arms.

The challenge to all men and women of good will is simple and straight forward. The regime of tyranny and death must end in Uganda.


Dr. Vincent Magombe, Secretary
Free Uganda Leadership Committee and
Press Secretary FU

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