The commander of Uganda's elite presidential guard has claimed that there are "external forces" seeking to overthrow President Yoweri Museveni.
The Special Forces Command (SFC's) Maj-Gen Don Nabasa made the remarks on Monday during the Tarehe Sita celebrations to mark 35 years since the establishment of the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF).
“External forces are looking and they don’t want us to develop. We have the oil here, beauty of the country, stability, development and above all a precious leader. They think maybe if they get the precious leader out there will be disorganisation. Please don’t go on that path, it’s a wrong path. Don’t let them use you,” Maj-Gen Nabasa said without naming the external forces.
“They won’t come physically, but if they come here, it will be the best because we are very ready for them. Unfortunately, they will not come. They will send money and people, like the ones of late being deported, to mobilise the youth because they have the manpower here and the youth are very easy to convince. Please, talk to them and they will see that the stability of their country is their future,” he added.
Last month, Uganda deported three top MTN, the leading telecom, managers on suspicion that they used their jobs as a cover to commit acts that undermined state security. The three are nationals of Rwanda, France and Italy.
The deportation, especially of the Rwandan, put further strain on the soar diplomatic ties between Rwanda and Uganda over a series of allegedly state-sponsored arrests of Rwandans in Uganda.
Kigali accuses Kampala of “continued harassment” of its nationals, while Uganda says the arrests target individuals suspected of espionage.
“Please, anyway, I am sorry. As I have said, I am not supposed to talk politics but since it is an army day, I think I am allowed to speak about what you may term as politics. Secondly as a General, I can’t hide undercover at all now, time has caught up with me and I can’t say, ‘I will see. No no no. That is what it is’,” Maj-Gen Nabasa said.
The commander said Ugandan youth do not know how the country was like 35 years ago and urged those that were present to speak to them and urge for calm.
“Talk to the people and youth to understand the stability of Uganda is their responsibility and future. Don’t think of beginning a war because you don’t know where the bullet will go. You are fighting people who have lethal means, how sure are you it won’t begin with you?” he cautioned.
Ugandan youth aged 15-30 constitute about 78 percent of the population, with most of them unemployed and who have no experience of Uganda's military coups which ended in 1986 when President Museveni seized power.
The youth made up the majority protesting the lifting of the presidential age limit that paved the way for President Museveni to run for a sixth elective term in 2021.
The UPDF Air Force Chief of Staff, Maj-Gen James Birungi said there was need to keep the transition of power that evolved from wars and military coups to peaceful elections every five years.
“We still have the firmness to ensure that the steady progress of the peace that was restored is never brought down and want to assure you we are not threatened. As a freedom fighter and a person entitled to keep peace, I will not let peace go. Join hands to ensure that the peace that was restored is not let down,” Maj Gen Birungi said.
Entebbe Municipality MP Rose Tumusiime, who was at the fete, said the youth should work with the elders instead of trying to force them out of power as the 2021 election approaches.
“We need to be cautious about the excitement of the upcoming election. There is a lot of politicking but we have to serve our people until the term ends. We need to keep peace,” Ms Tumusiime said.
-Additional reporting by The EastAfrican.