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Understanding Museveni’s silence on Rwanda

By Albert Rudatsimburwa



Museveni has been uncharacteristically silent on matters involving Uganda and Rwanda. Some commentators close to his government have given the impression that this is the normal reaction of someone who is calm and collected.

However, what they have neglected to point out is that this kind of reaction would also be expected from someone who has been caught in the act.

Museveni’s silence against mounting evidence that his government is actively coordinating the activities of the Rwanda National Congress (RNC), Kayumba Nyamwasa’s rebel outfit, and the FDLR, the remnants of the army that committed genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and has since been holed up in the DRC, is rather deafening.

The RNC has gone on record saying that it seeks to forcefully remove the elected government in Kigali and it has, over the years, undertaken terrorist attacks to disturb the peace in Rwanda so that the people lose confidence in the ability of their government to protect them.

These attacks have targeted crowded places, such as markets: grenades are tossed into the public with detonations claiming lives of innocent people.

Also targeted are activities aimed at disrupting the public participation in politics, such as was the case when terrorist operatives were infiltrated into the country to prevent people from taking part in the 2013 parliamentary elections.

Similar operations to disrupt the 2017 presidential elections were thwarted by the security forces.

The FDLR is also on record seeking to complete the genocide against the Tutsi. In fact, Uganda is sanctuary to the majority of fugitives who committed genocide in 1994 and have since been on the run.

It is on the international list of terrorist organisation, including being blacklisted by the Americans.

The former head of the FDLR, Ignace Murwanashyaka, was convicted in Germany for being a leader of the terrorist organisation. In 2005 he was issued with a Ugandan passport to facilitate his movements.

Reports from German indicate that Murwanashyaka had on Tuesday died in prison, before he completed his sentence.

Most importantly, the FDLR has since 1994 continued sporadic attacks on Rwandan territory in which innocent lives have been claimed.

Museveni’s uphill task has been to bring legitimacy to groups with that level of disrepute. Indeed, the deeper he has associated with them the more he has isolated himself as a rogue leader in the region.

Piling evidence

When it was revealed that the RNC top diplomat had been in Kampala during the first week of March, 2019 (President Museveni admitted that he held a meeting with her), someone on social media asked why pro-Museveni people like Ofwono Opondo, Sarah Kagingo, and others had all of a sudden gone silent (similar silence as the subject of this article) a reasonable Ugandan on Twitter captured their silence, “What is there to defend?,” in reference to the irrefutable evidence of partnership between Museveni and the RNC.

Less than three months before on December 14-15, senior officers of the FDLR who were returning from a coordination meeting with the RNC under the chairmanship of Uganda’s Minister of State for Regional Affairs, Philemon Mateke, were intercepted at the Bunagana border by DRC officials and turned over to Rwanda.

They have since appeared in court and confessed to the meeting in Kampala and Museveni’s role in the ambitions of the two forces to destabilize Rwanda.

It is interesting that among those saying that Museveni’s silence is due to being calm and collected are members of the RNC, most notably David Himbara, the publicist to Tribert Rujugiro, a key financier of the rebel outfit who runs business ventures in Uganda and whom President Museveni also admitted to having met – along with Mukankusi and Eugene Gasana.

In other words, by reading from the same script as Ofwono Opondo and Sarah Kagingo they end up revealing more than they deny.

Museveni’s modus operandi is to take credit for success and to blame others for failures. Silence is not his cup of tea. So why is he silent?

The obvious answer is that the mounting evidence is too much for any person to believe that he is not involved. Secondly, he is committed to seeing this dream of his – that he shared with the RNC and the FDLR – through.

He has turned to sanitizing these forces in Uganda’s media, particularly the leaders of the RNC. It is now difficult for a week to pass without a newspaper in Kampala reinventing a benevolent and magnanimous imagine of Kayumba Nyamwasa or Tribert Rujugiro and David Himbara writes feature articles that carry the bylines of other people.

An entire lineup of newsmen from The East African, The New Vision, and NTV television was taken to Arua to report on how Rujugiro’s tobacco factory (in which Salim Saleh is a stakeholder) has transformed lives there.

It is not lost on Museveni that he is selling Rujugiro to Ugandans as a savior to part of the country (Arua) that his government has long neglected!

Clearly, the silence is also a ploy to buy time to cleanse the RNC (and FDLR). But silence has not come without panic.

For the first time in decades, Museveni is making visits to army barracks and promising improved welfare to the hitherto neglected forces.

During his visits, he has promised to build housing units for soldiers, to increase their salaries, to set up a Sacco for officers and their wives to access financial services, as well as free education for their children.

Of course, he also carried with him sacks of money that he left behind for commanders.

Museveni also warned them “not to fall in the trap of past armies,” in reference to tribalism – all the while creating a tribal army whose commanders are predominantly from his ethnic group, as well as the Special Forces Brigade that is almost entirely made up of Bahima.

Previously, the only part of the army whose welfare he cared about was the SFC.

However, the fit of panic has him waking up to the reality that the SFC is not enough to protect him.

It’s up to whoever wants to see all these as some kind of coincidence to do so.

The author is a Great Lakes political analyst and media expert.

The views expressed in this article are of the author.

SOURCE: The New Times

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