President Museveni receives sports commentator Rob Walker, UPDF celebrates 42nd birthday, EAC Heads of State direct immediate ceasefire in the Eastern DRC

President Yoweri Museveni has said that the country’s unique heritage is the strongest contribution to humanity. “Our people are very welcoming, hospitable and always willing to learn,” he said.

He made the comments as he welcomed the renowned British sports commentator, Rob Walker last Wednesday afternoon at State House, Entebbe. Walker is in the country at the invitation of the Uganda Tourism Board.

President Museveni said that Uganda as a country is gifted in many ways; her culture, food, the languages and the beautiful sceneries.

On his part, Rob Walker commended Uganda’s hospitality saying that Ugandans are very welcoming and very accommodative. He thanked the President for the warm welcome amidst his busy schedules.

Walker is a sports journalist and commentator locally acclaimed for his commentary and praise of Uganda during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics where Uganda bagged four medals (two Gold medals won by Peruth Chemutai & Joshua Cheptegei in the 3000m steeplechase and 5000m respectively) and one Silver and one bronze medal won by Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo in the 10,000m respectively.

Mbarara remembers fallen heroes

The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) on Monday last week celebrated the 42nd anniversary celebrations for Tarehe Sita, also known as Army Day. The celebrations that were started earlier in the month involved week-long activities in the Greater Mbarara and Ankole sub-region. Senior UPDF and government officials including political leaders from Isingiro and Mbarara districts participated in medical camps, cleaning activities, tree planting as well as renovations of key government facilities in the region.  

While launching the activities in Isingiro, area MP Lt. Col. Bright Rwamirama who participated in the 1981-1986 liberation war, paid tribute to the revolutionaries and the population for their contribution during the years of the protracted struggle. The Greater Mbarara region was chosen to host this year’s Tarehe Sita celebrations today as part of the fulfilment of the FRONASA liberation struggle. The grand Tarehe Sita celebrations will be held at Kakyeka Stadium in Mbarara City under the theme: “Recognizing the sacrifice of the founders of the people’s revolution for social economic transformation.”

Mbarara City North MP Robert Mwesigwa Rukaari, who was the host for the celebrations, noted that greater Mbarara is the primer in the gun that launched the revolution. He narrates that the revolution dates as far back as 1971 when there was a botched attack on then President Idi Amin Dada at Mbarara Simba Batallion in Mbarara. Following this failed attempt, many Ugandans were killed by the Amin regime in cold blood. Rukaari cites people like James Karuhanga, a brother to retired UPDF Maj Rurangaranga, who was publicly executed in Mbarara Town in 1973. He also cites the former Secretary General of Ankore Kingdom, a one Bananuka, Bazilio Bataringaya and a reknowned businessman in Ankole called Baryamujura, among others.

Accoridng to Rukaari, the second liberation struggle was launched in 1979 by the UNLA Western Axis led by Yoweri Museveni. The fighters entered through Mutukula and took control of Mbarara. It was after this that later in 1981 the first bullet was fired by Elly Tumwiine, who Rukaari terms as a gallant son of Greater Mbarara.

Social economic revolution

Rukaari refers to the leader of the 1981 revolution, Yoweri Museveni, who wrote in his publication ‘from Obwiriza (grass-thatched) to Matafali (brick and mortar), that as student at Mbarara High School he visited Stock Farm in Mbarara and learnt modern farming methods which have since become his formula in his bid to transform communities in Uganda from poverty to prosperity.

Rukaari said that the week-long activities in Mbarara are an indication of how the communities can work with government to transform. He states that the activities including equipping health centres with maternity beds, and personal protection equipment to health workers, renovation of schools, cleaning of markets, marathons and donating sports gear were all a show of good will between the UPDF and the people of Uganda.

He made an appeal to fellow leaders to continue preaching the gospel of mindset change in communities. “In whatever society we live, we should not wait for government but we should all be involved in improving our areas of abode, as well as contributing to the needs of our people as well as train the future generation to make sacrifices for their country,” Rukaari stated. 

EAC Heads of State direct ceasefire in DRC

All East African Heads of State were last week in the Burundi capital, Bujumbura to attend  the 20th Extra-Ordinary summit of the East African Community Heads of State hosted at the Statehouse Bujumbura by Gen Évariste Ndayishimiye, the President of Burundi and current Chairman of the EAC summit. President Ndayishimiye said the purpose of the meeting was to evaluate the current situation in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo with a view of coming up with decisions that will ameliorate the security situation & facilitate the restoration of peace and security in the east of the country.

A communique was issued after the closed session in which the heads of state directed that all armed groups including all foreign armed groups should withdraw from that part of the country. They also directed the chiefs of defense forces to meet within a week and set new timelines for the withdrawal and recommend appropriate deployment matrix. The leaders further urged that this process be accompanied by dialogue and violations be reported to the Chairperson of the summit for immediate consultation with members of the summit.

The convening of the regional heads of state comes at a time when DR Congo and Rwanda relations have hit an all-time low after three Rwandan army officials were expelled from Goma. They had been part of the regional force. 

East African Community Secretary-General Peter Mathuki, in a letter dated February 1, asked Kinshasa to clarify why Rwandan officers serving at the regional force Headquarters in Goma were expelled. 

Early last year East African Community member states approved the deployment of EAC forces to the DRC to restore peace and stability. The region also had put in place an EAC-led dialogue facilitated by Kenya’s former president Uhuru Kenyatta. The dialogue is yet to bear fruit as tension between DRC and Rwanda has continued to escalate.

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