Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Besigye to punish soldiers who torture Karimojong

The Inter-Party Cooperation presidential candidate, Dr Kizza Besigye, has promised to punish soldiers accused of involvement in gross human rights violations during the disarmament exercise in Karamoja region.

Dr Besigye, who is campaigning in the region that has been riddled with armed conflict among the warrior cattle rustling tribes and government efforts to pacify the area over several decades, said he would punish soldiers involved in killing of innocent civilians and other gross abuses like castration and other torture.

“Yes I am aware that the UPDF soldiers killed and tortured people while conducting disarmament but I can promise you that I will deal with these so-called commanders to bring them to book,” he told a rally at Kosiroi, Katikekile Sub-county in Moroto District.

Dr Besigye said this after the residents lamented how they were tortured and killed and asked what he would do if he is elected president. But in a statement, the 3rd Division army spokesperson, Lt. Deo Tambwe Akiiki, reacting to a related story attributed to Dr Besigye, accused the opposition politician of being out of touch with the reality on the benefits of the disamarment exercise in Karamoja.

Lt. Akiiki said the fact that Besigye and other candidates have been able to freely canvass support in the area without being moved in armoured vehicles is testimony to the tremendous progress made to pacify the region.

“With due respect to a retired senior officer, I think the IPC flagger bearer should have used the notion of being “briefed and debriefed” treasured in the military by whoever is his aide in this area about how Karamoja was, how it is today and where it is going,” Lt. Akiiki said.

“If this did not happen, then I am afraid the retired senior officer could have lost touch with facts about an area which is a point of focus for all Ugandans and the international community since the defeat of LRA in northern Uganda.”

The place where Besigye held a rally was where the army allegedly killed unarmed civilians in a recent standoff.

In his campaign, Dr Besigye also promised to construct a cement factory in Karamoja, saying the region is rich in minerals but the current government has failed to make good use of that potential to benefit the people.
Dr Besigye also said President Museveni is copying his manifesto. Citing yesterday’s story in one of the dailies’ that stated the government will give loans to university students, Dr Besigye said Museveni is not following what is in his NRM manifesto.

“These are the points I have been making and Museveni is moving around also duplicating them because he has nothing to tell the country for last 24 years he has been in power,” he said.

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