Uganda: More Officers Must Rise Against Dictator Museveni like National Hero Kirumira

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Kirumira caged like an animal by Dictator Museveni. This is the price of bravery in Uganda.

[The Resistance]

To understand the heroism of a Ugandan police commander named Muhammad Kirumira Mutima, you must allow me to turn back a few pages of history and trace the timeline of suppression of dissent in the armed forces in this beautiful country ruled by a tyrant.

Uganda's U.S.-backed military dictator, Gen. Yoweri Museveni has a history of involving security officers in partisan politics but does not tolerate such officers when they have any iota of views divergent to his.

Of all those commanders who disagreed with him during his struggle against the Iddi Amin regime and during the war against President Milton Obote it is only Gen. David Ssejusa who came out alive. 

In 1996 Gen. Ssejusa told the parliamentary committee that army officers were corruptly benefiting from the LRA insurgency and deliberately failing to end it for selfish reasons.  Gen. Museveni got tough on the maverick and Ssejusa attempted to resign from military service when he wrote an open letter to Museveni thus: "I find it unjustified to continue serving in an institution whose bodies I have no faith in or whose view I do not subscribe to." 

Gen. Ssejusa petitioned the Constitutional Court which ruled in his favor. The panicky Museveni appealed to the Supreme Court which overturned the ruling of the Constitutional Court.  Museveni had hastily appointed George Kanyeihamba to the Court with a sole mandate of ensuring that the said appeal succeed.  In his ruling, Justice Kanyeihamba made the infamous pronouncement:
"The armed forces are instruments of state, equipped, disciplined, and trained to exercise physical force in the interest of the state.  They are subject to both the civilian and military law.  The actions and judgement on military affairs and personnel are vested in the president as chief executive who also happens to be the respiratory of constitutional and legal powers relating to the same subject matter.  The state should refrain from reviewing decisions relating to military affairs unless they have to.  The exercise of judicial powers must be within proper bound and should fall short to the point beyond which it might be considered as an intrusion in the powers of co-ordinate branches namely the legislature and executive.  The court has empowered Parliament and not the judiciary to supervise the executive when the latter is exercising its functions in military operations." 

The ruling gave Dictator Museveni a blank check to use, misuse and abuse the armed forces.  Justice Kanyeihamba had acted that way in the hope that Museveni was to appoint him the next Chief Justice but as usual he was in turn paid in his own currency and is now in his retirement, is one of the lead critics of Museveni's dictatorship. 

In 1999 Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye authored a document titled: "An Insiders View of How NRM Lost the Broad Base."  The document went ahead to point out the level of Museveni's sectarian kleptocracy and dictatorial tendencies.  Dr. Besigye, a medical physician who was once the dictator's doctor, was arraigned before the General Court Martial on charges of airing out his views in a "wrong forum". 

It was only the deal that was brokered by the political leadership of Besigye's home district of Rukungiri that got him off the hook.  Shortly after, Besigye retired from the army and declared his intentions to contest for the presidency from Museveni.  Since then, Museveni has been very cautious in allowing senior army officers to retire from military service. 

He instead keeps them hostage under military law. Former Army Commander, Gen. Mugisha Muntu directly opposed Museveni over amending the constitution to remove term limits.  Gen. Muntu was dropped as Army Chief and when he sought to retire from military service, Museveni urged him to stay with offers of a ministerial position which Muntu rejected.  A few years later Museveni was quoted by The New Vision, the government mouthpiece saying, “a young man like Muntu; how can he leave the army to start running around like he is doing now?  Now what made him leave the army?"

In 2003 Gen. Henry Tumukunde openly opposed Museveni on lifting of the presidential term limit.  He was accused of spreading harmful propaganda before being arrested, incarcerated and dropped as army Member of Parliament.

His trial under the General Court Martial lasted eight years with a caution.  With the First Lady as his goddess mother, Tumukunde was allowed to retire and was recently appointed Minister of Security. On the other hand, a more serious sentence would have meant dismissal with disgrace from the army after serving his sentence.

In 2005 Col. Fred Bogere, one of the 10 MPs representing the army abstained from voting on the constitutional amendment bill for the removal of presidential term limit.  He contended: " As a member of the national army I did not want to take partisan positions and that is why I took the middle line."  The then Army Chief Gen. Aronda Nyakairima reacted by stating, “that middle line was the wrong line" before asserting that Col. Bogere was to face the Army Council "to explain himself." 

Bogere was instead grilled by Gen. Museveni in Mbale, dropped from Parliament, and rendered redundant in the army until in 2016 when he was allowed to retire. In 2005 the then army Director of Records, Maj. Sabiiti Mutengesa stood his grounds in unearthing the existence of "Ghost Soldiers" created by top army Generals.  Sabiti was incarcerated by the then Chief of Staff, Gen. David Kaziini and Museveni did not come to Bogere’s rescue. Sabiti deserted the army and fled the country to exile where he lives to this day.

In 2016 the then internal Security chief Brig. Ronnie Balya told cabinet in paper and presented at a retreat that corruption had reached a level that could even overthrow the government.  Museveni sacked Balya immediately from the post of director of Internal Security Organization (ISO). 

Since then, paranoid Dictator Museveni has to a greater extent succeeded in containing divergent views which he perceives as dissent within the security forces.  Both senior and junior personnel live in fear of even expressing positive criticism which is branded as very grave service offences of either subversion, incitement to a mutiny or spreading harmful propaganda.  

It is only around 2015 when Gen. Ssejusa once again attempted to leave the army but was tamed with incarceration.  He said: "The UPDF is a prison where anyone who threatens or is even rumoured to have political ambitions is threatened with military law."

This is because the dictator, in power for 32 years, fears there are others who can actually provide Uganda good leadership.

Fifteen years ago Museveni embarked on militarizing the police which had traditionally been managed under the Public Service. He appointed serving army officers to the top leadership of the police while at the same time displacing professional police officers. The nature of training, structuring, management, equipment and conduct makes the police a military force and it is currently the lead coercive tool of Museveni’s regime. Just as is the case with the army, by alienating the police force from the terms and conditions of the traditional public service, Museveni intended to take personal control and suppression of dissent within the police force.

We now come to the ongoing case of District Police Commander Muhammad Kirumira Mutima. He has become a national hero overnight. He took a stand last week by publicly announcing that he was resigning from the police force and he denounced corruption and police involvement in crimes and even murders.

Dictator Museveni construed it as an act of rebellion, incitement to mutiny, subversive and spreading of harmful propaganda. This explains the brutal way in which Kirumira was arrested from his residence before he was incarcerated in the infamous torture chamber at Nalufenya. Kirumira Mutima (hard hearted) had alleged lack of political will to fight escalating crime in the country when he called for accountability of the 11 million Crime Preventers. These are militia members recruited by the notoriously brutal police commander Gen. Kale Kayihura. "We brag that we have 11 million crime preventers, but crime is only rising day in day out and everybody who speaks is charged with unlawful communication," Kirumira said.

Kirumira alleged that individual top police officers were conniving with criminals to terrorize the population in return for sharing the loot. He went ahead to allege preferential treatment by the force in enforcing discipline among officers: "What is wrong is discrimination in the force, finding someone doing good work then they get self confessed criminals you are running after and they use them against you." 

Kirumira also challenged the legitimacy of the so-called police courts.  "If I am charged with corruption, bribery and extortion, why not taken to Kololo anti-corruption court which gives punishments than police courts.  It is also doubtful, then if I am charged with torture who are the victims and how will they benefit from police court?  Anyway, why don't they call for justice in criminal court [normal civil court] than an internal [police court]?"

Kirumira’s resignation statement concludes as follows: "If circulating the image of the police requires some of us to be sacrificed, I am available for any form of death of imprisonment but my position is that let us not promote criminality while in our uniform.  I have realized that my image before the administration shall never change and given the fact that I am a young man, I have resigned."  

Mindful of the fact that many more other police commanders and their juniors are equally disgruntled with the management of the force and could follow suit, the regime had to take harsh action.  In its public notice, it warned that the “message should go a long way to warn the other officers who get excited over nothing and begin to breach the code that binds us together as a force.  When the full wrath of the law weighs on you, you will be alone to tell the story and you will surely need no sympathizers."

On the contrary Kirumira has won ther admiration of Ugandans who now know they have allies within the police force who when the time comes will join them in chasing the dictator.

Commander Kirumira Mutima deserves credit for taking a bold stand amidst intimidation, blackmail, sycophancy, primitive accumulation of wealth and patronage. 

The national opposition to Museveni's family operated Kleptocracy and dictatorship, Tubalemese (Let's Fail Them), has called upon members of the security forces to come out and join the campaign to replace tyranny with accountable democratic government.

Officers and men -- act like Kirumira.

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