By Our Reporters
Since the announcement that opposition’s biggest players (Kizza Besigye and Bobi Wine) would be carrying out joint political activities including Defiance rallies and processions, there are indicators that the Museveni state is increasingly becoming nervous.
A day after Betty Nambooze and Joel Ssenyonyi (respectively speaking for Besigye’s People’s Government and Bobi’s People Power) announced this political unity and that the two Principals would be prioritizing the Defiance approach, Interior Minister Jeje Odong convened an urgent session of the National Security Council (NSC).
Odong did not pretend what they were meeting to discuss. It was Defiance, he stated in his notice calling for the meeting which ironically was immediately posted by Col Besigye on his Facebook and twitter accounts. The veteran Defiance politician mocked the government by saying however much they try, their time was up. To him, it was too late to stop Defiance.
Odong nevertheless had his meeting and was attended by representatives from the following security-concerned offices: IGP, DG ISO, DG ESO, Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence and the CDF representing the UPDF. The other attendee was the Commissioner General of Prisons Dr. Johnson Byabashaija. As promised by Odong in his invitation notice, it’s now evident that countering Besigye’s Defiance campaign (now likely to benefit from the Bobi Wine momentum) was the major discussion at the NSC meeting.
Consequently, according to state media the military (working with the newly recruited LDUs) has effectively taken charge of all the anticipated anti-Defiance operations in Kampala, Wakiso and (to an extent) Mukono districts.
To effectively counter the joint Defiance activities by Besigye and Bobi Wine, the NSC has created five ‘Security Zones’ covering the politically very volatile district of Kampala. Each of these is to be superintended over by an army officer of the Lt Colonel rank and above. Much of Wakiso has been assigned to Maj Gen Sam Kawagga who ordinarily Commands 1st Division based in Kakiri. Kawagga is the overall boss for the anti-Defiance operations in Medard Segona’s Busiro East, Busiro North (Kakiri etc), Makindye Ssaabagabo (covers largely Entebbe Road, Namasuba etc), Entebbe Municipality, Semujju Nganda’s Kiira Municipality, Bobi’s Kyaddondo East and Nansana Municipality.
Lt. Col Stephen Sabiiti, who already doing his work by holding meetings with Boda riders and taxi groups, is overseeing Rubaga Division. He has already established his command center in Wankulukuku from where he is investing in infiltration of youth groups to get first-hand information on what People Power supporters are planning to cause mayhem. In an approach similar to ex-IGP Kayihura’s, Lt. Col Sabiiti is evidently devoted to combine both the stick and carrot approach; implying he will use persuasion where he gets cooperation and the whip where the potentially riotous opposition supporters don’t cooperate.
In the Besigye scheme of things, the areas now under Col Sabiiti have always been commanded by a riotous Tablique called Habib Buwembo who recently was released from Luzira for participation in previous Defiance activities related to Dr. Stella Nyanzi’s continued incarceration. Buwembo was also sometime back the spokesperson of Nakasero Mosque and is also FDC Chairman Rubaga South. Under him are the Defiance rioting hotspots like Busega, Natete, Ndeeba, Wankulukuku, Nalukolongo and parts of the Northern By-pass road.
Lt. Col Sabiiti a few days ago sent out his scouts who identified for him famous riot ring leaders in Rubaga South and he met them at Platinum Hotel in Busega for some “detoxication.” These were mostly jobless riot battle-hardened young men who lounge out along the Northern bypass. He told them he has a file on each one of them and warned them of dire consequences should they participate in any future Defiance riots being contemplated by Bobi and Besigye. He told them he is here to pacify the area not only against political turbulences but of crime generally and needs their support and cooperation. He will be grateful if they give him the cooperation but is determined to succeed even without them cooperating. He spoke of the upcoming mass deployment of military personnel in areas around Shell Busega to achieve overall pacification he is here to accomplish to increase the governability of those areas. Apparently even when much of the logistical and operational work will be done by the military, the overall responsibility to especially account to the population for whatever happens will remain with the police because this primarily is their work.
Equally volatile Kawempe Division has been placed under Lt Faisal Luwaga whose leadership of the anti-Defiance operation will be transitional as a more senior appropriate officer is being identified to handle the assignment.
Maj Semakula is overseeing Bulenga and Kyengera areas and will directly be under Gen Kawagga’s supervision and command basing at the 1st Division Kakiri. The unusually very active Kawagga a few days ago pulled up in Kira Municipality and unveiled the LDU teams that will be complimenting efforts to pacify the heavily populated Municipality. While there, he said the military operations (centered mostly on Kampala, Mukono and Wakiso districts) will be on for an indefinite period until the top leadership is convinced that total pacification and total elimination of any potential chaos has been achieved.
Gen Kawagga called on the new LDU recruits to observe discipline and self-restraint to ensure they don’t misuse the rifles that have been placed in their hands. He was clear since they are now part of UPDF, whoever misbehaves will be court-martialed and subjected to military law. To ensure any disciplinary cases are expeditiously handled, Kawagga said new military courts would soon be established in Kampala, Mukono and Wakiso areas where the new LDUs have been deployed. The decision to recruit and train 24,000 LDUs was announced by the President September last year as the country mourned the death of Afande Mohammed Kirumira who was gunned down in Bulenga by unknown assailants riding on motorbikes. The 24,000 (trained by UPDF at Kaweweta and Singo) are meant for deployment in 10,000 villages comprising the Greater Kampala Metropolitan Area. UPDF Publicist Brig Richard Karemire says adequate mechanisms have been put in place to ensure the new LDUs don’t conduct business in a manner that soils the good reputation UPDF has built over the years. He explains that the idea isn’t to replace or sideline the conventional Police Force in pacification of communities and ridding them of crime. He says the deployments are meant to only compliment police efforts to build additional capabilities to adequately secure people and their property. (For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164755 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).