Besigye’s Loose-Bitter Tongue, UPDF in DRC and US Kangaroo Sanctions

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By Ofwono Opondo

Slowly but surely Kizza Besigye is coming to the end of his times as the leading let alone reasonable opposition voice in Uganda and therefore his recent ‘demand’ that the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) withdraws immediately from its current offensive against the Allied Democratic Front (ADF) terrorists who have used the DRC as their fertile ground should be treated with scorn coming from a terrorist apologist.

Besigye appears to have decided that in his political career he will focus more on invoking fear and doubt which has grown exponentially and doesn’t let him appreciate the bigger picture.

And so, many pundits suggest that Ugandans have gotten used to Besigye’s bitter-loose tongue wagging at whatever President Yoweri Museveni does these days.

Of course the UPDF must act professionally and with great caution and restraint, although skeptics like Besigye would want to portray a picture that Uganda’s entry into the DRC is a blanket cheque for human rights abuse, racketeering and looting like it happened from 1998-2003.

As the self-appointed leader of an outfit he named “People’s Front for Transformation” Besigye argues that the UPDF should withdraw and only provide advice to DRC army (FARDAC), and UN’s MONUSCO with 18,000 soldiers that has been in Congo for over a decade now without defeating the negative forces.

Instead, MONUSCO has been dancing round with ADF and other negative forces as they facilitate those plundering DRC timber, ivory and minerals wealth. Actually there is ripe suspicion that illicit trade is so lucrative that no one especially those from Western countries want the war and instability in DRC to end.

They will castigate everyone else except themselves about war, instability, plunder, lack of democracy, failed policies and the new bogeyman, China, and so-called “China debt trap.”

From the school arson in 1996 to series of bombings, assassinations by shooting, and recent renewed spate of detonating explosives in the midst of Kampala, one would expect that Besigye and his ilk at least keep their mouths shut for now and let our security agencies with the tacit approval of the DRC government uproot terrorism from its base in the DRC.

Erias Lukwago, the ever Besigye political sidekick, and legal jargon-man tried to sound cleverer by posing to himself rhetorical questions as to whether the UPDF was on a peace keeping mission, law enforcement or hot pursuit.

 

So, “Operation Shujaa” commanded by Maj. Gen. Kayanja Muhanga to flush out the Islamic State affiliate, ADF, ought to be given every material and moral support to succeed. While there has been a delay to brief and obtain approval from parliament for the deployment beyond Uganda’s borders, at an appropriate time that will surely be done like it was with Somalia under AMISOM.

 

As if coordinated, the US government after months of keeping the wait this week released its statement on some Uganda government officials on its sanctions list, among them, the Chief of Military Intelligence Maj. Gen. Abel Kandiho allegedly for his role in human rights abuses in the run up to elections early this year. As a result, if Kandiho has any property in the US, he now forfeits it to the US government but luckily, he has said that he doesn’t own any property in the US let alone desirous of traveling there.

 

So far Kandiho now follows Gen. Kale Kayihura who was sanctioned in September 2019 after he left as Inspector General of Police.

Kayihura too at the time scoffed at the sanctions saying that he had no property interests in or desirous of entering the US.

In both cases, the US government that prides itself as champion of the rule of law and fairness did not accord the two officers a chance to be heard either through the government of Uganda or directly as individuals.

Instead they applied underhand indictment and have not disclosed specific particulars of the alleged human rights transgressions, dates or persons abused. Yet no US soldier is held accountable by other jurisdictions.

While local opposition party leaders cheer the sanctions, the US that routinely bombs countries and killing millions without offering them any chance to justice, fair trial in courts of law or be heard in the media should be embarrassed by some of its own actions, and therefore the last to be taken seriously.

Surely, if not playing political gimmicks in the hope to scare security officers from taking hardline tactics against their rowdy opposition surrogates they are building for regime change, the US knows who owns property and travels to their country frequently.

 

The US was an important and indispensable focus decades ago when to get medical treatment, holiday or education it was the place, but today there are many centers of excellence including Arabian desert countries that offer beauty at affordable costs.

If indeed human rights were the main issue, the US government should pile pressure on its Uganda counterpart and individuals. The government of Uganda has severely punished its security officials who have been found at fault as the cases in Kasese, northern Uganda, Karamoja and recently Somalia attest.

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