Monday, August 15, 2005

Regional Security?

Events that have occurred in the last days of July and the early part of August this year 2005 have indicated that the NRM leaders do not respect us as individuals. The very notion that the fundamental freedoms as enshrined in the United Nations Charter are directly applicable to each individual is viewed differently by the NRM. Also the propensity for the NRM translating issue only in it own preferable ways came out clearly when Museveni himself said that nothing could be ruled out in Garang’s helicopter’s crash. No sooner than the independent FM station joined in the debate did Museveni do a complete about face. He not only declared that, Mwenda, the host of the FM station could not only say what he Museveni had already said, but he even made sure that Mwenda was arrested and the radio station closed down because he was 'playing with regional security.'
But the truth is that anything that affects any of the leaders in our regions affects us all. Therefore, collectively as a civic duty we are bound to seek to know why something has happened so that we can formulate the most appropriate response. Garang’s death affect many people in the regions that include Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Chad, Congo, Somali and Egypt just to mention a few countries. Northern Uganda has not known peace for as long as Museveni has been in power. With the installation of Garang as first vice president of Sudan, the situation was expected to change. Southern Sudan was also expecting much better conditions and they put all their trust in the vision of Dr. John Garang. It is instructive to know that the reaction to Garang’s death in which more than 100 people died was not because who killed Garang. It was simply an expression of deep and unacceptable loss that no one had a way of addressing. It was total disbelief and inability to accept that Garang whom just yesterday they pinned their hopes and aspirations on, was today gone forever. Never to be seen again or heard from. The riot was a reaction to the tragic loss of a one whom they had become endeared to but not because of how he died. Of course, during the riot other factors may increase or decrease the intensity of the riot. In other words, one could manipulate the riot in a given direction as towards a group or idea or goal. There is no shortage of that in the region!
In Kampala it was an opportune moment to rein in the pesky Monitor and its popular radio station hosted by Andrew Mwenda. The signal came in an outburst reminiscent of Idi Amin’s days in which Museveni threatened to close down any newspaper that “plays around with regional security.” Immediately, broadcasting commission wrote a letter closing the radio station on the ground that it aired ‘seditious’ material. So, while the people are mourning Garang, Museveni is reaping benefit by clamping down on the opposition, drawing the attention away from the recent tampering with the constitution and the failed referendum exercise. In fact, this is the time when Museveni slides the timeline all the way back to January 26,1986.
So, whenever you hear Museveni lashing out at everybody a la Amin, and security matter is thrown in anyhow among the sentences for the right effect, and the crowd roars with approval, know that the time has come for him to take some very drastic and irrational action. It usually comes in the form of ‘military matter,’ ‘national security,’ ‘regional security’ or any such combination that would allow them to take action without being held accountable.

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