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Army rank saga ruffles NRM govt

  • MPs probe committee named.
  • Lawyers push on with petition.
The Army, and NRM government by extension, are facing a torrid time as Parliament begins a probe into ethnic balance in Army promotions, while a group of lawyers push ahead with a petition on the same issue in the Constitutional Court.
The chairperson of the parliamentary Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs, Mathias Kasamba, told The Observer last week that after consulting the Speaker, Edward Ssekandi Kiwanuka, he named a five-member sub-committee to investigate the alleged imbalance.

The five members on this sub-committee on Defence are; Mathias Kasamba (Kakuuto/NRM), Rosemary Namayanja (Nakaseke/NRM), Latif Sebaggala (Kawempe North/DP), Samuel Abura Pirir (Matheniko/NRM) and Moses Mukose (Busiki/NRM).

Kasamba said the sub-committee may start work this week after approving the Ministry of Defence 2009/10 policy statement and the budgetary allocations.

The naming of a smaller probe committee follows a disagreement in the main committee early this month over the recruitment, promotion and deployment in the Army.

The committee initially declined to consider the Ministry of Defence/UPDF budget until the promotions are explained. They sent away a team of the ministry officials, including the Minister Dr. Crispus Kiyonga.

But after a second appearance and after intense lobbying, the committee voted in favour of a small committee after pleadings from the Chief of Defence Forces (CDF), Gen. Aronda Nyakairima.

Some committee members led by Makindye West MP, Hajji Hussein Kyanjo, were pushing for the rejection of the Defence budget until the imbalance is satisfactorily explained.

But when the matter was put to a vote, all NRM MPs supported it while the opposition rejected it. Those who opposed the budget include; Kyanjo, Judith Akello Franca (Pader/FDC) and Yokasi Bihande Bwambale (Bukonjo East/FDC).
Latif Sebaggala and Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga) abstained.

Sebaggala told The Observer on Saturday, August 22, that he is uncomfortable being a member of a committee whose terms of reference are unknown.

“The information on promotion, recruitment, deployment and training opportunities we are demanding is not classified to require that we must hold closed-door sessions. It is not clear where the information we shall collect will be taken,” Sebaggala said.

Asked why Kyanjo who has been outspoken on the matter had been left out, Kasamba said, “He has a pre-conceived mind.”

UPDF faces court

As if a parliamentary inquiry is not enough, the head of UPC’s Communication Department, Benson Ogwang Echonga, and a group of lawyers calling themselves Advocates Pro Bono Group (APBG) Limited last week filed a petition in the Constitutional Court challenging the criteria used in promoting officers.
 
Pro Bono usually refers to a group of lawyers who argue public interest cases largely not for profit. The petition was filed on August 18.
The Group’s lead counsels; are Adams Kibwanga Makmot and Isaac Zackie.

Ogwang told The Observer on Friday that they have already served the Attorney General who is the respondent in this case with a copy of the plaint. The lawyers want court to declare as unconstitutional the “acts and/or omissions of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) High Command

 ... in which they preferentially trained, appointed and promoted only officers from Ankole region of the Republic of Uganda to the highest ranks in the Army, being the ranks of General, are inconsistent with and contravene the provision of article 208 (2) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda which states that the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces shall have a national character.”

“Your second petitioner contends that the promotion of His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni hailing from Mbarara in Ankole Region, the promotion of Salim Saleh alias Caleb Akandwanaho who hails from Mbarara in Ankole Region and is the younger sibling of His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the promotion of Elly Tumwine who hails from Mbarara in Ankole Region, the promotion of Aronda Nyakairima who hails from Rukingiri in Kigezi - Ankole Region and the promotion of David Tinyefuza who hails from Sembabule District but of Ankole extract as generals, the highest rank in the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces and omitting to promote any other equally qualified and experienced Army officers from the other regions of the Republic of Uganda to the rank of general, contravene the provisions of article 208 (2) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, which provides that the Uganda Peoples Defence forces shall have a national character,” reads the Pro Bono affidavit.

50% generals are from Ankore

The under-fire Minister of Defence, Dr. Crispus Kiyonga, appeared on CBS 98.2 FM station last week and struggled to explain away the imbalance.

Kiyonga said promotions are based on five criteria, including seniority in the liberation struggles, courses attended, and level of education.

He said perpetrators of the imbalance theory are selectively listing names of mainly officers from Ankore. He discouraged the idea of looking at soldiers on the basis of their origin.

“For example, the Vice President, Prime Minister, Speaker of Parliament are all Baganda, should we say that this is a government of Baganda?” he asked.
But according to the Pro Bono Group of lawyers, of the 58 top generals, almost half are from one region, Ankore.

In military speak, a brigadier, major general, lieutenant general and general are all considered generals. We have 58 such generals in the country.  

Of the 58, 27 are from Ankore which accounts for 46%. Buganda follows with 9 (15%), while Acholi and West Nile each has 4 generals which represents 6%. The other generals are from Karamoja 2 (3%), Teso 2 (3%), Bukedi 3 (5%), Kigezi 3 (5%), and Bunyoro 2 (3%).
However, the petition before the Constitutional Court focuses on the full generals who include; Museveni, Saleh, Tumwine, Tinyefuza and Nyakairima.

Historical factors

The petitioners reject Kiyonga’s argument that some officers hold higher ranks because of historical reasons.
The Observer has seen a copy of one of the documents the petitioners intend to present in court in which they claim that other deserving officers who were very senior in the NRA struggle have not been promoted as expected.

The document claims, for example, that Col. Rtd. Michael Mbugga Kojja and Lt. Col. George Gyagenda Kibirango who hail from Buganda, joined the bush war at its infancy but have remained at the same ranks for over 20 years.
 
Gyagenda Kibirango, a major for 20 years, was the NRA/M Political Commissar at the time the rebel group captured state power in 1986. On the other hand, Mbugga was quoted in a media interview as saying that he was retiring from the Army because of frustration.

List of Generals

Generals
1    Gen. Aronda Nyakairima    Ankore    
2    Gen. David Tinyefuza    Ankore    
3    Gen. Elly Tumwine    Ankore    
4    Gen. Rtd Caleb Akwandwanaho    Ankore    
5    Gen. Rtd Yoweri Museveni    Ankore    

Lieutenant Generals
1    Lt. Gen. Ivan Koreta    Ankore    
2    Lt. Gen. Jeje Odongo    Teso    
3    Lt. Gen. Katumba Wamala    Buganda    
4    Lt. Gen. Rtd. Moses Ali    West Nile    

Major Generals

1    Maj. Gen. Francis Okello    Acholi    
2    Maj. Gen. Julius Oketta    Acholi    
3    Maj. Gen. Benon Biraro    Ankore    
4    Maj. Gen. Jim Oweyesigire    Ankore    
5    Maj. Gen. Joram Mugume    Ankore    
6    Maj. Gen. Levy Karuhanga    Ankore    
7    Maj. Gen. Nathan Mugisha    Ankore    
8    Maj. Gen. Rtd Mugisha Muntu    Ankore    
9    Maj. Gen. Rtd. Kahinda Otafiire     Ankore    
10    Maj. Gen. Zed Maruru    Ankore    
11    Maj. Gen. Joshua Masaba    Bukedi    
12    Maj. Gen. Francis Nyangweso    Bukedi    
13    Maj. Gen. Ali Kiiza     Bunyoro    
14    Maj. Gen. Andrew Gutti    Karamoja    
15    Maj. Gen. James Kazini    Kasese    
16    Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura    Kigezi    
17    Maj. Gen. Rtd. Jim Muhwezi    Kigezi    
18    Maj. Gen. Bernard Rwehururu    Ankore     
19.     Maj. Gen. Ali Bamuze    West Nile    

Brigadiers

1    Brig. Fred Tolit    Acholi    
2    Brig. Otema Awany    Acholi    
3    Brig. Burundi Nyamunwanisa    Ankore    
4    Brig. Garvas Mugyenyi    Ankore    
5    Brig. Geoffrey Muheesi    Ankore    
6    Brig. Nathan Mugisha    Ankore    
7    Brig. Patrick Kankiriho    Ankore    
8    Brig. Pecos Kutesa    Ankore    
9    Brig. Robert Rusoke    Ankore    
10    Brig. Rtd. Nathan Katagara    Ankore    
11    Brig. Steven Kashaka    Ankore    
12    Brig. Timothy Sabiiti    Ankore    
13    Brig. Sam Turyagyenda    Ankore    
14    Brig. Henry Tumukunde    Ankore    
15    Brig. John Mugume    Ankore    
16    Brig. Rtd. Andrew Lutaaya Lugobe    Buganda    
17    Brig. Elly Kayanja    Buganda    
18    Brig. Hudson Mukasa    Buganda    
19    Brig. James Sebaggala    Buganda    
20    Brig. Kasirye Gwanga    Buganda    
21    Brig. Dr. Sam Lwanga    Buganda    
22    Brig. Sam Waswa    Buganda    
23    Brig. Sylva Kayemba    Buganda    
24    Brig. Matayo Kyaligonza    Bunyoro    
25    Brig. Lakara Nakibus    Karamoja    
26    Brig Geoffrey Taban Kyabihende     Kigezi    
27    Brig. David Wakalo    Bukedi    
28    Brig. George Etiang    Teso    
29    Brig. Clovis Kalyebala    Tooro    
30    Brig. Hussein Ada    West Nile

BENSON OGWANG’s affidavit

CONSTITUTIONAL PETITION NUMBER 21 OF 2009
1.  ADVOCATES PRO BONO GROUP (APBG) LIMITED
2.   BENSON OGWANG ECHONGA ............PETITIONERS
VERSUS
1.   ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE REPUBLIC OF UGANDA.

(Under article 137 {1] 13] and [4] Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and The Constitutional Court
(Petition and Reference) Rules 2005)
I, BENSON OGWANG ECHONGA of c/o Makmot - Kibwanga & Co, Advocates P.O. Box 441 Lira whose full address is stated at the foot of this affidavit, do make oath and swears as follows: -

1.   That I am male adult Ugandan of sound mind, resident in Uganda and your second petitioner and that I swear this affidavit in that capacity.
2.  That I am a human rights activist involved in promoting democracy, accountability of public officials, the rule of law, access to justice and protection of human rights.
3.   That I have a right to bring this petition under article 137 (3) of the constitution of the republic of Uganda.

4.   That I am a person having interest in and is affected by the following matters being inconsistent with and in contravention of provisions of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda whereby
I am aggrieved:

a.   That the acts and/or omissions of the; Commander-in-Chief of the Uganda People Defence Forces (UPDF), that the act and/or omissions of the Chief of Defence Forces of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF), the acts and/or omissions of the Uganda People Defence Forces (UPDF) Council, and the acts and/or omissions of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) High Command who are all servants of the first respondent, in which they preferentially trained, appointed and promoted only officers from Ankole region of the republic of Uganda to the highest ranks in the Army, being the ranks of General, are inconsistent with and contravene the provision of article 208 (2) of the constitution of the republic of Uganda which states that the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces shall have a national character.

b.   That your second petitioner contends that the promotion of His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni hailing from Mbarara in Ankole Region, the promotion of Salim Saleh alias Caleb Akandwanaho who hails from Mbarara in Ankole Region and is the younger sibling of His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the promotion of Elly Tumwine who hails from Mbarara in Ankole Region, the promotion of Aronda Nyakairima who hails from Rukingiri in Kigezi - Ankole Region and the promotion of David Tinyefuza who hails from Sembabule District but of Ankole extract as generals, the highest rank in the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces and omitting to promote any other equally qualified and experienced army officers from the other regions of the republic of Uganda to the rank of general , contravene the provisions of article 208 (2) of the constitution of the Republic of Uganda which provides that the Uganda Peoples Defence forces shall have a national character.

c.   That your second petitioner further contends that the acts and/or omissions of the servant of the first respondent which includes the second respondent which are inconsistence and in contravention of article 208 (2) of the constitution of the republic of Uganda further contravenes article 21 (1), (2) and (3) of the constitution of the Republic of Uganda which provides for equality and freedom from discrimination insofar as the preferential training, recommendation, appointment and promotion of Uganda People Defence Forces Officers from Ankole Region as opposed to other 15 Regions as laid out in the first schedule in constitution of the republic of Uganda is concerned.

d.   That your second petitioner further contends that the acts and/or omissions of the respondents which are inconsistent with and in contravention of article 208 (2) and article 21 (1), (2) and (3) further violates the provision of section 17 (d) of the Uganda People Defence Forces Act Cap. 307 which prohibits subversion in the form of tribalism, nepotism or other form of sectarianism

e.  Your second petitioner further contends that the present administrative and operational positions within the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces such as the Chief of Defence Forces, the army Joint Chief of Staff, the chairman of the court martial , the commander of air force, the chief of military intelligence , the heads of the various chieftaincies, the commandants of the various divisions, the commandants of the various brigades, the commanders of the various battalions, the army spokesperson, among others are mostly occupied by people from Ankole or geographical regions neighboring Ankole and very few officers from other regions of the country and as such contravening article 208 (2) of the constitution of the Republic of Uganda.

f.   That to further this illegal ends, the information on appointments and promotions to various leadership positions within the army have not been reasonably disseminated for the benefits of the people of the republic of Uganda in contravention of article 41(1) of the constitution of the Republic of Uganda and that your second petitioner only became aware of this on the 28th day of July, 2009 when the parliamentary committee on defence forces threw the officials of Uganda Peoples Defence Forces out of parliament for being imbalanced in favour of Ankole and neighboring regions of Uganda whereby the committee demanded to be furnished with information on the overtly imbalance^ promotions within the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces. (Refer to annexure A).

g. That your second petitioner contends that the unbalanced promotion in the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces, which favors people from only Ankole and neighboring regions of Ankole as being illegal, oppressive, unjust, unfair and a contravention of the constitution and therefore a violation of the rights of all Ugandans to have a national army with a national character as provided under article 208 (2) of the constitution of the Republic of Uganda.

That your second petitioner further contends that in an event of a regional government being formed in Ankole and neighbouring districts as provided for under article 178 and the first and the fifth schedule of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, the imbalance in the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces in favour of Ankole and neighbouring regions would effect make the national army to be headed by persons hailing from only one regional government and would therefore contravene the provision of article 208 (2) of the Constitution of Uganda.

i.    Your second petitioner contend that in light of the utterances by the present chairman of the Electoral Commission, Engineer Badru Kiggundu in the presence of your second petitioner and which was reported in the Monitor News Paper of August 15, 200C at page 4 titled “Kiggundu: Army is crucial during polls”, makes the present unbalanced composition of Uganda Peoples Defence Forces to favour presidential and other political candidates hailing from Ankole region against presidential and other political candidates hailing from other regions of the country. This in effect contravenes article 1 (1), (2), (3) and (4) of the constitution of Uganda as far as it threatens the sovereignty of the people coming from other regions of the country. (Annexure B).

j.    That your second petitioner is further aggrieved by the poor dissemination or concealment of information on recruitments, appointments and promotion by the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces which your petitioner believes is done in bad faith and in violation of article 41 (2) of the constitution of the Republic of Uganda.

k.   That your second petitioner contends that the concealment of information on recruitment, training, appointments and promotions is a further contravention of article 208 (2) which subordinates the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces to civilian authorities and as such requiring that Uganda Peoples Defence Forces avail substantial information to the civilian authorities including parliament which information should be adequate for the civilian authorities to monitor and evaluate the national character of the army.

I.    That the availing of information on recruitment, training, recommendation and promotion of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces to citizens is not likely to prejudice the security or sovereignty of the state or interfere with the right to the privacy of any other person and such does not fall within the exception under article 41 (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda.

In any case, the availing of such information is necessary for people of Uganda to have faith and trust in the national army which under article 209 (a) and (c) is entrusted to, among others, preserve and defend the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Uganda and foster harmony and understanding between the defence forces and civilians.

5. That I searched for the details of the promotions and positions within the Uganda Peoples Defence  Forces in order to support this petition in vain as the information has been concealed and therefore / i believe that it is only this Honourable Court that can order for such details.

6.   That I therefore swear this affidavit in support of our joint petition for a declaration that the acts and/or omissions of the respondent and or his servants are inconsistent with and in contravention of articles 21 (1), (2) and (3), 41 (1), 208 (2) and for any redress this court deems fit in the
circumstances.

7.   That what is stated herein is true to the best of my knowledge and belief save for information whose sources have been disclosed therein.
Sworn in Kampala this .....18th....... day of August 2009

By the said BENSON OGWANG ECHONGA

DEPONENT
Before me
THE COMMISSIONER FOR  OATHS   

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