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Museveni’s murderous history


We have heard of very many stories about how cruel post-independence governments were, stories ranging from looting, detention without trial and human rights abuses of all sots. Many people single out for blame the governments of Idi Amin and Milton Obote.

A critical study of history, however, reveals that there were other people who could be the key architects of some of these atrocities. Below I bring you some of the shocking information, well researched on who was really behind most post-independence murders in Uganda.

In one of the press conferences called by State House after the first phase of opposition demonstrations known as walk to work in 2011, president Museveni is quoted saying: “I fought Amin, I fought Obote and I have fought and defeated over 23 rebel groups in Uganda, I will also defeat these reactionary forces that are aiming at tarnishing the image of my government.” Museveni went ahead and described himself as the “Ssabalwanyi”, or the king of the fighters.

To an ordinary Ugandan, this statement appears a joke because, how can a man who was a junior officer in the army by then claim that he fought the two governments of Obote and Amin? Some may call it an outright lie; others like me may say that to some extent the President was right:

President Museveni developed the urge for power in the early days in the 1950s while still at the high school and when he got a chance to get to Dar-es-Salaam University, he was exposed to the revolutionary ideas of Franz Fanon and Machiavelli, which he was later to use in his search for power in Uganda. It also seems that Museveni mastered them so much to an extent that he could dream of practicing them every day and night.

I have heard very many stories, “Amin killed my uncle,” Obote killed my Aunt,” and so many of the same goes on and on. And the worst of all being the murder of the Archbishop of Uganda Jenan Luwum and the Chief Justice of Uganda Benedicto Kiwanuka. It may be true that some of these murders were carried out by the government and some not.

In The Pearl of Africa is Bleeding: We Shall Massacre Them, Lance-Sera Muwanga and Henry Gombya highlight how cruel Museveni’s FRONASA group was while carrying out their operations in the Mutukura basin between the border of Tanzania and Uganda. Museveni formed FRONASA together with other students with a major aim of liberating African countries from colonial rule while still at the University of Dar-es-Salaam.  It’s believed that FRONASA participated in many fronts especially in Mozambique, where the citizens were struggling to gain independence from the Portuguese. It’s in Mozambique that the FRONASA learnt guerilla tactics that would be used in Uganda.

FRONASA’s participation in Mozambique exposed them to war skills, ranging form sabotage, deception and propaganda. On return they used these skills to fight the post independence governments of Amin and Obote. For example, whereas many Ugandans blame Amin for killing Benedicto Kiwanuka, researchers and even some of the former FRONASA members know the truth that it’s not Amin who killed Kiwanuka because, one wonders why would Amin release Ben Kiwanuka from prison, appoint him as the Chief Justice of Uganda and then later have him murdered.

 This was not true; one of the former NRA Commanders (name withheld) revealed that the FRONASA group was behind the murder of Ben Kiwanuka. The major reason behind this was to tarnish Amin’s government before Ugandans and the International community as a government of the bandits and murderers.

In fact even after the death and the murder of Kiwanuka President Amin took a full month wondering of who might have been behind the death of Kiwanuka, and up to now there is no clear information on who killed Kiwanuka. It’s believed that there was a lot of insecurity created in Kampala by FRONASA.

Then came the story of the death of Jenan Luwum, the archbishop of Uganda. Luwum was very critical of the government in regard to human rights abuse. Its believed that after FRONASA realized this, they took advantage of it and exploited the opportunity of making him conflict with the Government of Amin.

Research shows that the FRONASA group led by Museveni wrote a false letter addressed to him reminding him of how he had delayed the supply of guns he had promised them in a week’s time. What is even more interesting is that the letter addressed to the Bishop was put in a very strategic place – at the entrance of the gate –where the Amin’s intelligence could easily land on it.

When Amin’s Intelligence officers found it, they had no option but to believe and take action against him because he had been very critical of the government.

Another incidence is the Mutukura massacre in Tanzania. its believed that Mutukura and Kagera basin had been the base for FRONASA; in fact they used to carry out much of operations in Western Uganda like burning schools and factories as well as looting cooperative societies and then ran back to Mutukura: It’s also well known that Amin knew of their operations and on several occasions blamed Tanzania for harboring rebels that wanted to destabilize Uganda from the West.

 In 1972, Museveni’s FRONASA provoked Uganda by attacking from the same region and moved up to Mbarara where they attacked Simba Battalion Barracks in Mbarara. When Amin came to learn of it, he retaliated with heavy shelling of the Tanzanian side of the border to the extent that his Army went ahead and occupied part of the country. When FRONASA leant of it they used it as an advantage to tarnish his government before Tanzanians and the Nyereres government. FRONASA conducted a night operation where innocent Tanzanian civilians were massacred in cold blood.

 In fact this was the worst operations carried out by the Museveni group as compared to those carried out in Luwero and Northern region because, in this operation, Tanzanians were massacred and their dead bodies hanged on sharp sticks before the sun like they were roasting meat. When president Nyerere saw this he wept for his fellow citizens and described the situation as a tragedy.

It’s also believed that after Amin learning of the news, he was surprised and could not believe that the Uganda army could do that. He commissioned Maliyamungu, the army Chief of Staff to go and investigate what exactly happened.

Maliyamungu initially thought it was just a simple incident involving the killing of four or five people. But when he reached at the scene, he cried and shed tears for what he saw.

The major objective of this attack was to provoke the Nyerere government and the Tanzanians to attack Uganda. Indeed, President Nyerere called for international support against the overthrow of Amin’s government, which was done in 1979.

Then came the Muslim massacre in western Uganda which was also a tragic story as all the Muslims were herded and massacred in cold blood. This was later blamed on the UPC Government of Obote.

Now comes the massacres in the Luwero Triangle in the 1980s. In Pecos Kutesa’s How I Saw It, Museveni’s guerillas used to dress in the Uganda army uniform and tortured civilians as a way of making them hate the government and embrace the National Resistance Army rebels.  

The Pearl of Africa is Bleedingbrings out the true picture of what happened in the Luwero Triangle, quoting in one instance Andrew Kayira saying, “I saw over 50 fleshly cut off heads bleeding surrounding the tent in form of the ring and Museveni was sleeping inside.”

Kayira goes on to narrate and after Mueveni came out of the tent and welcomed him together with some friends, he first made them move around the tent and after he told them “Do you see all these people! This is how I deal with people who don’t agree with me.” This is quoted in Nyanjura Doreen and Bagaya Ibrahim’s Book, Is it the Fundamental Change?

Kayira didn’t know that five years later, he was equally going to be a victim when he opposed his boss.

Very many atrocities were committed by Museveni’s rebel group in the Bush and if you want to find out the facts read three books: The Pear of Africa is Bleeding: We Shall Massacre Them, Museveni’s Justification of Franz Fanons Theory of Violence in Uganda, and Violence in Uganda: What is Inside Museveni’s Uganda.

These books highlight what transpired in the Luwero triangle based on the eye witness by Andrew Lutakome Kayira, the leader of another rebel group known as FEDEMU. Even Milton Obote, in his Notes on the Concealment of Genocide in Uganda, tried to highlight some of these shocking atrocities committed by Museveni’s FRONASA and later NRA in the Luwero Triangle.

Then also former NRA guerillas like Kahinda Otafire have on several occasions admitted in public that they used to put on UPC and army uniform and torture civilians as a way of tarnishing the government.

According a youth who fought on the side of the NRA after being harassed by the so-called UNLF soldiers, he was surprised to find in the NRA camps some of the very people who used to torture the residents of his village. In fact, according to him, some of them were even senior commanders who used to disguise as Uganda army and torture civilians.

In 1987, one year after Museveni came to power, there was an operation in the north against the rebels of Bazilio Olara Okello. This operation was led by Major General Fred Rwigyema and coordinated by the deputy head of intelligence Major Paul Kagame.

Unarmed civilians from different sub-counties were ordered to assemble at Corner Killack purportedly to be addressed by Rwigyema. Then over 380 people were herded to the nearby bush and starved for two days and after bullets and RPG shells started raining on them until when all of them were dead. After Rwigyema called in journalists and started narrating to them the story on how they had killed over 380 rebels. This later came to be called the Corner Killak massacre of 1987.

Then there are many other massacres such as the Mukula incident in Eastern Uganda. The most memorable quote of Museveni which people should never forget is when he said, “You see when you give them a good beating (civilians in the north) then those who use them (the rebels) will never use them.”


Athyei Byamugisha is researcher and policy analyst  

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