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January 29, 2013

Uganda Parliament to Summon Officials for Coup Rhetoric

by Peter Clottey

Uganda’s parliament plans to call on the nation’s defense minister and military chief to explain whether they had threatened to overthrow the government in recent statements.

“The committee is considering to invite the minister and the chief of defense forces to [parliament] to explain or to throw light on the statements attributed to them,” said Simon Mulongo, the vice chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Defense and Internal Affairs.

“The majority of Ugandans are condemning that because the military taking over can only take us back to the dark days of the regimes like that of Idi Amin,” Mulongo said.

He said a majority of Ugandans have expressed concern about the threat of a possible military takeover of the government, which he says would seriously damage the country’s stability and peace.

“It is a direct threat to democracy and the constitutional order in this country, which people have cherished and which they believed that a constitutional government is supposed to remain in power,” said Mulongo.              

Following disputes between the executive branch and parliament, both Defense Minister Crispus Kiyonga and the military chief, General Aronda Nyakairima, are reported by Ugandan newspapers to have said the army was monitoring events and that there was a possibility that it would take over if legislators did not show sufficient seriousness in solving the nation’s problems.

On January 23, while addressing a press conference, General Nyakairima was quoted as saying the military would not allow bad politics to take Uganda back into turmoil.

“These comments have sent some shock waves in the country and have raised a number of concerns, and these concerns are very serious indeed to parliamentarians and all Ugandans,” said Mulongo.

President Yoweri Museveni is said to have made similar remarks about a possible military takeover of the government at a retreat for legislators from the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM). Museveni was quoted as saying that the military would not allow the “confusion” in parliament to continue.

 “I was there when he made the statement, but he was referring to a future situation or scenario. But, the minister and the chief of defense forces were referring to the current situation, where there is contestation between parliament and the executive,” said Mulongo.

Clottey interview with Simon Mulongo,