Uganda: MPs say president is guilty of massacres in the 80s

President Yoweri Museveni and the exiled former president Milton Obote should both be held to account for the Luweero massacres, Members of Parliament said yesterday.

But others told The Monitor that Obote, who had led the country to independence, should be forgiven for what went wrong under his administration. They added that it would help the process of national reconciliation.

The MPs, mostly from the opposition, were reacting to Mr Museveni’s pronouncement that although Obote was free to return, he must explain the massacres in Luweero Triangle.

An estimated 300,000 people perished as Museveni’s rebel forces, the National Resistance Army, battled Obote’s government forces, the Uganda National Liberation Army between 1981 and 1985.

The Presidential adviser on media issues, Mr John Nagenda, told The Monitor on phone yesterday that most of the people in Luweero were not killed in crossfire but on Obote’s orders.

He said he was a commissioner for human rights for nine years and that testimonies he received on human rights violation under Obote’s government were disgusting. “There was a lot of loss of human life but Obote and his hooligans have never been apologetic. This means he does not appreciate the harm done under his government,” he said. “Museveni cannot answer for the killings because people were not killed in crossfire. It was Obote government’s policy to send gangsters to villages to kill people and we have evidence of this,” he added.

But Kole MP Omodi Okot said Museveni is creating an opportunity where he would also answer for the people who died while he was a rebel. “Obote did not go to Luweero to play football but to fight the enemy who was Museveni,” he said.

Lira Municipality MP Cecilia Ogwal said no case had ever been raised against her party leader Obote and it was Museveni who should be brought to book.
“It’s him to account for the people that died because he was based in Luweero and not in Ntungamo or Mbarara,” she said. “He knows where the mass graves are.” Mr Museveni was born in Ntungamo.

Ogwal added: “His remarks are a mere threat because Museveni fears Obote and UPC.” She said the President had wanted Obote to return on his terms, which the former head of state refused. “We are aware he was very disappointed (Museveni) because he wanted Obote to return on his terms,” Ogwal said. “But as far as we are concerned, he has to return on the people’s terms.”

Ms Betty Amongin (Women Apac) called for a universal law to deal with every leader. “It’s Museveni who invaded Luweero and not Obote,” she said.
She added that prosecuting Obote would provide an opportunity for the former president to point out those who were involved in killing people in Luweero. “He has been blackmailed for 19 years,” she said.

Amongin said if Obote was responsible for the people who died in Luweero while Museveni was a rebel, Museveni should also be prosecuted for the people who are dying in the north. “If it is the logic that ruling presidents should answer for the atrocities of rebels, Museveni should answer for what Kony is doing in the north under his rule,” she said. Samia Bugwe North MP Aggrey Awori said he plans to move a motion on Wednesday urging the government to provide written guarantees that Obote and exiled FDC leader Col Dr Kizza Besigye can return to Uganda without being prosecuted for any political crimes.

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Source: The Monitor (Uganda), Mercy Nalugo and Agness Nandutu |http://www.monitor.co.ug/

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