Ugandan dictator Museveni. Photo: Facebook.
[Speaking Truth To Power]
In Uganda Paul Lokech, a top general whom Gen. Yoweri Museveni may have feared because his military exploits outshines the dictator’s was given an elaborate funeral this week.
Top regime officials including Museveni sang Lokech’s praises. This in no way rules out the possibility that the regime was involved in his death.
It’s from a macabre old playbook, where the murderer mourns the victim.
In Germany in 1944 dictator Adolf Hitler gave a state funeral to Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, whom he feared because of the battlefield accolades he’d won during World War II. Yet Rommel, once seen as close to Hitler, and considered one of Germany’s top generals of all time was ultimately killed by Hitler.
In Uganda Museveni is believed to be on a mission to pave the way for his son, the country’s junior dictator Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba to succeed him as senior dictator. Before Lokech’s sudden death another top general, Katumba Wamala, who is considered an opponent of Museveni’s plans to install Muhoozi survived an assassination attempt. He stumbled out of his bullet-riddled car, bloodied and dazed, and cried out his allegiance to Museveni and wondered why the regime wanted him dead. Gen. Wamala’s daughter, Brenda, traveling in the same vehicle, and his driver Haruna Kayondo weren’t as lucky–both died in the June 1 strike.
When Lokech died suddenly, the regime was quick to claim he’d died of a “blood clot.” Yet his eldest daughter Winnie Anyango Okech said, during a wake for Lokech, that they’d recently spoken and that “daddy wasn’t sick.”
She added, even more revealingly, “Daddy always said ‘Winnie I never lower my guard.’ So, I’m left with questions on whether you lowered your guard.”
Given the numerous generals believed to have been eliminated by Museveni–including James Kazini, Nobel Mayombo, Aronda Nyakairima, and others–it’s not unlikely that Lokech could have been killed. After all, Museveni also shed crocodile tears for Kazini, Mayombo, and Aronda.
The regime’s praises for Lokech have been effusive.
Museveni, his brother Gen. Salim Saleh, and junior dictator Muhoozi, all had beautiful words to share about Lokech. He was commended for a heroic withdrawal of hundreds of soldiers trapped in Congo during one of Uganda’s wars of aggression and plunder in Congo. Rather than flee the frontlines Lokech marched with his men hundreds of miles through near impassable terrain. They all made it home with the armed forces’ tanks. Lokech was was also praised by Saleh for his reform programs in the military and most recently in the national police force when he became deputy inspector general.
In recent years Lokech earned his reputation as a great commander when he was in charge of the Ugandan intervention Army in Somalia. The Ugandan soldiers–at the behest of the U.S.–are fighting al-Shabab militants who are trying to depose a weak unpopular central government. Admirers and foes began to refer to Lokech as the “Lion of Mogadishu,” a reference to the Somalia capital.
Gen. Lokech shown handing out free mosquito nets to Somali civilians near the capital of Mogadishu.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/ AU/UN/ STUART PRICE.
As with Museveni, German dictator Hitler also had a problem when his general’s star shined brighter than his.
Erwin Rommel, who had been promoted to Field Marshal, was heralded as one of Germany’s best tank commanders of all time. Rommel fought in World War I, but it was during World War II that his reputation reached the stratosphere.
Rommel and his tank divisions initially dominated the Western allies in North Africa. He was referred to as the “Desert Fox.” He’s believed to have coined the phrase “war without hate.” But the Allied army ultimately turned the tide defeating the Germans after the Siege of Tobruk in Libya. Then led by British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery the Allied forces dealt the Germans a decisive defeat in El Alamein, Egypt, in 1942.
By that time Rommel’s exploits as commander of the 7th Panzer Division had gained him admiration even in the Allied countries’ media, something Hitler couldn’t have liked.