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UGANDA: Gen. Museveni’’s Interahamwe Must Be Disbanned Before Killing Fields Are Created


Rivers of blood? Gen. Museveni congratulates children and young men — welcomes them into militia

Gen. Museveni’s Uganda appears to blindly follow in the footsteps of Gen. Juvenal Habyarimana’s 1990s Rwanda through mobilization, military training and indoctrination of youths of the ruling party.

In Rwanda of the 1990s, apart from the army, the principle instrument of genocide was the Interahamwe militia. The Interahamwe, a Kinyarwanda word which means “Those who stand together” or “Those with a common goal” –not, as is frequently stated in the media, “Those who attack together”– were recruited from within the MRND youth wing.

During the four months preceding the Bugesera massacre, extremist politicians, including senior members of Gen. Habyarimana’s MRND party, carefully prepared the youth, using public meetings and distribution of inflammatory material.

The mass mobilization of party militia throughout the country was supervised by, and placed under the control of, very senior politicians and military officers. Lines of authority were from the Presidency to every rural commune.

After the Rwanda Patriotic Front/Army (RPF/A) invaded from Uganda on October 1, 1990 and made military gains against  Habyarimana’s regime forces, by early 1992, Gen. Habyarimana, then president of Rwanda,  began providing military training to the youth of his party (MRND). The youth were later transformed into the militia known as the Interhamwe. In support of the Interhamwe, the ministry of Health permitted these unruly MRND youth to requisition vehicles from the ministry and collect gas coupons each week for their fuel to facilitate their work in the elimination of the “enemy”.

The MRND youths, in their individual and collective capacity as members of the Interahamwe, were instrumental in the commission of genocide and crimes against humanity that happened in 1994.

In today’s Uganda, through his notorious and criminally-minded Inspector General of Police (IGP) Gen. Kale Kayihura, Gen. Museveni has embarked on mobilization, military training and indoctrination of the NRM youth, many of whom are children, reminiscent of what happened in Rwanda in 1994.

Officially, Gen. Museveni calls his militarily-trained group of children “Crime Preventers”. Both Gen. Museveni and Gen. Kale Kayihura have passed out thousands of crime preventers across the country.

Isn’t crime prevention the job of a non-partisan professionally-trained police force?

The so-called crime preventers are being recruited exclusively from the NRM youth wing.

They wear official NRM Yellow T-shirts with an imprint of Gen. Museveni’s portrait. As a propaganda ploy, and to hide the real intentions and objectives of the NRM militarily-trained youths, Gen. Museveni directed the creation of the National Crime Prevention Forum (NCPF), a euphemism for his militia.

He is creating a paper-trail that will eventually serve a useful purpose when the time comes for justice.

Crime preventers are coordinated by the NRM mobilizers who work alongside Resident District Commissioners (RDC).

All RDCs are appointed by Gen. Museveni. The crime preventers are posted in every village in Uganda. Their real work, however, is yet to be fully disclosed to the general public.

There are 57,792 villages in the country. Each village is assigned 30 crime preventers. This means throughout the country there are at least 1.7 million crime preventers.

The policy of Gen Museveni, now being implemented by the NCPF, is a “one-plus ten,” strategy; that is, every crime preventer has a duty and obligation to recruit a minimum of between 1 and 10 new crime preventers.

Assuming each crime preventer recruits  a minimum of at least one person, this  translates into another 1.7 million, thus bring the total figure to 3.4 million.

At the time of writing, Gen. Museveni has already created a powerful structure of village-based committees covering all the 57,792 villages in Uganda.

There are 30 NRM leaders in each village. Why would Gen Museveni need all these brainwashed children, if not to prepare them for attacks on members of the unsuspecting opposition and the public during and after the 2016 presidential, parliamentary and local elections?

Open source materials disclose that on  August 29, a total of 40,049 crime preventers were passed out in Kabale, Western Uganda. Ten days later, 3,348 were passed out at the Police Training School, Kabalye, Masindi, in Western Uganda.

Another 3,433 were also passed out at Mbarara University of Science and Technology in Western Uganda.

Thirty thousand crime preventers were passed out in Kasese also in Western Uganda. Gen. Museveni personally inspected a parade by crime preventers at Nyakasanga play ground in Kasese town in Western Uganda and also passed out another 173, 010 crime preventers in Mbale, Eastern Uganda.

Why is Gen Museveni focused on his region of Western Uganda? Is it because, with both presidential candidates, Dr. Kizza Besigye and Mr. Amama Mbabazi coming from Western Uganda, Gen Museveni is worried and unsure about winning votes in that region?

Recalling what happened in Rwanda in the 1990s, Ugandans and the international community must not lose sight of the fact that recruitment, military-training and indoctrination of the NRM youth and children have intensified as the presidential and parliamentary elections are only a few months away. 

We should not also lose sight of the fact that, as Habyarimana’s militia made their trial run at Bugesera where several thousand women and children were massacred, Uganda Police Force (UPF), under the command of an NRM cadre Gen.  Kayihura, is testing the ground on how far the UPF can repress and suppress men, women and children, and get away with such massive and systemic violations.

Repressive actions of the UPF are intended to undermine the opposition parties and to interfere with free, open and transparent 2016 elections.

Could Gen. Museveni have good intentions? His track record suggest that he can never be trusted to keep his words; in politics, good intentions are never enough, good deeds are.

With so many youths and children militarily-trained and indoctrinated, any vague instruction or misunderstanding may result in death of civilians.

That’s why in the interest of free, fair and violence free elections, Gen. Museveni’s Interahamwe must be disbanded immediately.

Ugandans do not need militias whose loyalty is not to the state but to an individual; the country’s long-time dictator. 

The warning signs are there for all to see. The international community and other Ugandans must take actions to prevent possible elections-related violence, especially when they could escalate into the kind of killings we saw in Rwanda.

Dr. Obote Odora is a lawyer and international consultant.

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