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I won’t tolerate sectarianism in UPDF, says Museveni

President Museveni inspecting the guard of honour at Uganda Military Academy in Kabamba on Dec. 24th. PHOTO BY ISAAC KASAMANI  

Monday, December 28, 2009

President Museveni has said his government will not tolerate any acts of discrimination or favouritism in the army.

Recently, a suit was filed by Pro Bono Limited, a private company, and an official of the Uganda Peoples’ Congress in which the Constitutional Court is petitioned over the composition of the army’s top leadership, saying it is mainly drawn from western Uganda.

The petitioners want regional balance in the appointment of top army chiefs but the army leadership insists that the high ranking army officers from the west were qualified.

“There is no sectarianism or tribalism here. That’s why we have been able to liberate this country. Anybody who tries it (sectarianism) will be doing a disservice to this country,” Mr Museveni told about 1,033 UPDF recruits who were passed out on Friday after nine months of military training in Singo.

Instead, Mr Museveni said, anybody who plans to use religious or political sectarianism to divide the army would be dealt with harshly

A section of MPs, especially Makindye West MP Hussein Kyanjo, who doubles as shadow minister for Internal Affairs, have been calling for regional and religious equity in the recruitment and promotion of soldiers.

However, the President said: “We don’t believe in where you come from or whether you are a Catholic or Protestant or a Muslim because we don’t have the key to heaven. For religion, you go and practice it in your house or your church, but not in the army.”

During the pass out, recruits demonstrated skills in obstacle crossing, a hair-raising exercise, where they moved on ropes in air, as their colleagues fired bullets below the ropes.
The new soldiers also displayed martial- arts skills to fight enemies in face-to-face combat without weapons.

The President attacked the colonial armies, saying their ideology was to loot African resources, not spreading civilisation “as they claim”. He described an army without ideology as an empty bottle.

He said UPDF-imprint of peacekeeping in the Great Lakes region will never be erased in Africa. “The NRA (UPDF) history will never be erased. Our forces have been in Somalia and they are doing good work. Except that when they sleep, these negative elements blow them up. They should have blown them first because they have the capacity,” he said. The UPDF Chief of Operations and training, Brig. Silver Kayemba, said the recruits were taken from all districts in the country to dispel queries of regional imbalances.


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