A few days ago, the Daily Monitor Newspaper of Uganda narrated the shooting of General Kayumba Nyamwasa in Johannesburg on its front, second and third pages, and went further to reproduce excerpts of Kayumba’s letter which it first published on May 30, 2010.
Readers may have also noticed an apology on the front page for having failed to produce the story the previous day, yet there was a big headline on the shooting incident and a reference for the readers to find the story on page three.
While the story and the recycling of Kayumba’s letter raises some questions, it is not surprising. What is surprising and outrageous, however, is the statement from the Uganda People’s Defence Force [UPDF] Spokesman, Lt Felix Kulayigye.
The same newspaper quoted Kulayigye as saying that the Ugandan military had joined sympathizers to “commiserate with the Nyamwasa family”.
For those who thought that the UPDF was impartial in dealing with regional matters of security, Kulayigye’s statement came as a surprise. His statement is surprising, particularly because it represents the official diplomatic stand of the institution that he speaks for, and more so because this is not the way militaries conduct their diplomacy and public relations the world over.
One wonders why the UPDF should send a message of sympathy to the family of an individual belonging to a foreign army, and more so, to the family of a fugitive whom the UPDF knows very well that he is wanted back home to answer criminal charges.
It is questionable for a Defence Force to commiserate with a family of an individual accused of involvement in acts aimed at destabilizing his own country.
The shooting of Nyamwasa in South Africa was very unfortunate for the Nyamwasa family. The Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo sent a message of sympathy to the family because they are Rwandans.
Nyamwasa is not a member of UPDF and neither is he a Ugandan. Commiserating with a foreign renegade military officer raises doubts on the credibility of UPDF and concerns on the interest and relations that UPDF has with the Rwandan fugitive, Nyamwasa.
Lt Col Jill Rutaremara, Defence and Military Spokesman