KAMPALA - Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni Sunday bragged about the army’s strength and appeared to threaten the opposition. Referencing security clashes at opposition protests this month that left 54 people dead, Museveni quoted the Bible, saying wrongdoers deserve death.
In a special address Sunday night, President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power for 34 years, donned a military jacket and did not mince words.
Referring to opposition parties as “criminal gangs,” Museveni said the violent protests that led to the loss of 54 lives will never be repeated.
During the address, he reviewed videos of protesters damaging vehicles with his campaign posters and undressing a woman who was clad in a yellow T-shirt.
He called the incidents acts of impunity by opposition supporters with foreign support.
Museveni, who is also the chief of the defense forces, says weak police responses in the past have created a false impression that his security is also weak.
“It was definitely a miscalculation for the schemers to imagine that they can use such anti-people techniques in a country led by the original National Resistance Army," he said. "The overall security posture of Uganda is robust. You have no right to stone Ugandans, to undress them, including women, because they are wearing yellow garments. You have no right to damage property.”
Regarding videos of soldiers shooting at civilians, he said they would be investigated and that an explanation as to why they didn’t shoot into the air would be provided.
Museveni said out of the 54 killed, 20 were not rioters and that they would be compensated.
Quoting the Bible, Museveni had the following to say to rioters and their supporters:
“In the book of Romans Chapter One, Verse 32, it says, ‘Who, knowing the righteous judgement of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same, but also approve of those who practice them.’”
Museveni said the opposition National Unity Platform party, led by Bobi Wine, and the Forum for Democratic Change party, led by Amuriat Patrick Oboi, think they are untouchables and would be dealt with.
Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, the FDC spokesperson, says Museveni’s message to the opposition is that both they and their supporters are vulnerable.
“He wants to prove a point, that the next elections are just another ceremony," he said. "Even if you remove me by a vote, I am not going to accept and I have military. And that’s why the shooting was random. In arcades, in schools, in taxis. To prove to everybody that it is very costly to protest against Museveni.”
Political analyst Bernard Sabiti says Museveni has come to a point where he knows that he is not a democrat and continues to play a psychological game on Ugandans.
“Whenever something very serious happens, he actually either holds an AK-47 or wears military fatigues to public functions, to actually remind people that he is not a civilian president; he didn’t come in because of your vote," Sabiti said.
Ugandans go to the polls January 14 to elect their next president.