The Chief of Defence Forces General Katumba Wamala has promised the country that the army will only play a secondary role to the police in managing the upcoming elections.
“The Army is only here to support the police on election day in order to have a peaceful free and fair election,” the General said at the Liberation Symposium held in Kampala on Friday, February 5 2016.
General Wamala, who was keynote speaker at the event, moved the house when he requested to deliver his speech in commemoration of former UPDF army commander and internal affairs minister Gen. Aronda Nyakayirima who died last year. A 30-seconds moment of silence was observed.
The general highlighted the National Resistance Army’s journey from 1981 and earlier at the event held ahead of the Tarehe Sita celebrations at Kololo Independence grounds.
Wamala said the UPDF has always had a pan-African view, to safeguard its victory in Uganda.
He highlighted the UPDF’s role on foreign peacekeeping missions, reminding the audience that “we can’t be an island of peace when instability looms all around us.”
“There’s nothing as important as peace. Peace has no substitute. I would like to appreciate all the peace initiatives that have come out to advocate for peace ahead of the elections,” he added.
He warned some actors on the political scene, including NGOs who thrive in chaotic situations. “Without chaos, they have no work.” “Uganda is not ending on the February 18th. That will be an event and it will end, but Uganda will stay.”
UPDF ready for Peace Times
He announced that the army is transforming itself for the peace times by engaging in developmental activities. UPDF will be launching customized water that will be unveiled at #TareheSita celebrations at Kololo.
“The UPDF is celebrating 30 years and like other armies that are celebrating the success, the UPDF has also come a long way. We have been able to defeat 28 insurgent groups over that time that have been planning to disorganize the security of the nation”, explained General Wamala.
“Security means freedom for all which the UPDF have been able to do all this while,” he added.
General Wamala revealed that like the rest of society, the army faces challenges managing youth. He said the army is dominated by youth, who he referred to as “joystick solidiers” because they are always on their phones tweeting and posting on facebook.
“The youth of today are on twitter and facebook and when you put them in the trenches for days like they used to do in our days, they complain. So the army has to also find ways of adapting and managing these youth otherwise they will run away.”
African is like an 18-year-old-girl
Moderated by Colonel Felix Kulayigye, the dialogue was aimed at bringing to alignment the role of the UPDF in ensuring that there is a peaceful election process. The event was one of the highlights of the Tarehe Sita celebrations.
Kulayigye, describing the challenges the continent faces, said “Africa is like an 18 year old girl in the village. Every young man wants to pass by for something. If her father isn’t strict, she may be used by some.”
The event was dubbed a state of the nation platform organized by ACODE in collaboration with the UPDF Liberation Symposium and organization partner the foundation for Youth Mentorship. The dialogue was dubbed #Peace- No Substitute! UPDF and the Youth for peaceful elections.
Also speaking at the UPDF Liberation Symposium was a delegation from Tanzania represented by Dr John Kabudi Professor of Political Science from The University of Dar Es Salaam. He gave a lecture on “The Survival of the African State and Elections: The Case of Tanzania.”
“I am not here to talk about our skin but by the true patriotism we believe in by our countries. Let’s create a nation and once we have created a nation, we shall go to popular sovereignty”, he stated.
Dr John Kabudi lashed out at politicians who use money to ask for votes. “Money can’t make you to be president”, he stressed.
“ I wish Uganda a better general elections. And I wish we East Africans had one general Election Day so that together we build our countries” remarked Dr Kabudi.
Dr Arthur Bainomugisha, Executive Director ACODE, called upon the youth and Ugandans to be the champions of their own peace and transformation. “Africa loses 18billion per year due to insurgencies and if we didn’t have to lose that money, then Foreign Aid would not be necessary.”
The event was later crowned with the official lighting of the Peace Torch that symbolized a belief in the UPDF pledging and choosing peace in the fourth coming elections. Activist Maria Matemebe led in praying for peace for the nation.