Ugandan Denies Kayira Murder Motive

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A Uganda Army spokesman Maj. Felix Kulayigye vehemently denied assertions by a former major in the Army that the government may have played a role in the murder of Dr. Andrew Lutakome Kayira to stop him from questioning President Yoweri Museveni about the death of his own men after they had integrated with Museveni’s forces.

Museveni had fought his way to power with his National Resistance Army while Kayira commanded the Uganda Freedom Army—his forces were integrated with Museveni’s when the latter took power in 1986. Kayira became Energy minister but was sacked in October 1986 and arrested for allegedly plotting to topple Museveni—the High Court freed him for insufficient evidence. Shortly later, he was shot to death March 5, 1987 by gunmen while dining at the residence of his friend, Henry Gombya, then a BBC reporter.

For years the government had denied a role in his death and invited Scotland Yard to help investigate. The Yard issued a report Uganda shelved for 20 years. The Kayira case again burst into headlines recently when an independent Uganda newspaper, The Daily Monitor, published what it said was a copy of the Scotland Yard report, seemingly implicating government soldiers in Kayira’s death—government owned New Vision published another version claiming it was the authentic one, and implying the government wasn’t involved in the murder.

Last week, a retired Uganda Army officer, Maj. Twaha Mukiibi, who had been a UFA fighter and one of those integrated with Museveni’s NRA into a national army, said Kayira was killed because he wanted to ask Museveni how more than 300 of his fighters died—they were transported in train cars lacking sufficient ventilation.

The Kayira fighters died on the train because “there was no any other means of transport in the area,� Kulayigye said in a phone interview with The Black Star News.

He said the Kayira fighters were part of the 35th battalion and were being transferred from Kitgum to Mbale “because even Kenya was then hostile to us at that time.� Moreover, added the spokesman, Kitgum civilian residents had started complaining about the soldiers’ behavior. “Nobody could endanger his own troops, we then wanted them,� he added, questioning why the government would put its own soldiers in jeopardy. He referred to Mukiibi, who now is exiled in London, as a “deserter.�

What’s more, added Maj. Kulayigye, there are jealous individuals who are peddling misinformation in an attempt to embarrass the government and place into doubt its fitness to host the Commonwealth Conference, scheduled for November in Kampala. “That guy is a deserter and wants to make Headlines in the news,� he added.

Moreover, he questioned why Mukiibi didn’t mention that Kayira had abandoned his fighters in 1982, returning only in 1985, which is the year Milton Obote’s regime collapsed.

When asked how many NRA fighters had also died with UFA fighters in the fateful train ride, Maj. Kulayigye said, “I can’t remember because these are incidents of 20 years ago. It is too long to remember.�

Contacted for a response, Maj. Mukiibi said he had fled the army “because I would have been killed as well. Escaping and deserting there are two different things.� He added that Maj. Kulayigye didn’t know what he was talking about. “He is just a parrot who is given what to say.� He said Maj. Kulayigye should explain “how could it have been a coincidence that, Dr. Kayira was arrested in October, his men were killed in October…�

He says the fighters’ deaths was no accidental mass suffocation in the train cars but deliberately planned. He added: “I’m so surprised that, Ugandans are still being fed on naked lies and they don’t make queries---When they arrested our leader, they thought we were going to strike back and that is why those boys were killed in transit.�


Black Star Europe correspondent Miwambo is based in London.

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