Nobody should associate the ongoing kidnappings of people with the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has warned.
Museveni, in his televised address on Saturday night, said the talk of state kidnaps should be ignored because the security forces including the army and police are taught not to violate people’s rights and kidnaps cannot happen under the NRM.
The Internal Affairs minister admitted before parliament last week that the army had kidnapped at least 44 people and out of these, he said, the state couldn't trace the whereabouts of 31. The number of kidnapped and missing persons is believed to be way higher than the official figures.
Museveni said every missing person will be accounted for and urged the security forces to make public the list of these persons. Since last year, there have been rising concerns from the public over people being kidnapped by ununiformed armed people who force the abductees into the dreaded 'drone' vans and driven away to unknown places.
Some of the victims who have been released from ‘abduction’ and lived to tell the tale narrate ordeals of torture inflicted on them by the kidnapers with many claiming that they were questioned about matters relating to the National Unity Platform and its president Robert Kyagulanyi's plans to topple the government.
Kyagulanyi emerged as first runner-up in the January 14 the elections and has since petitioned the Supreme court to nullify the reelection of Museveni, which he says was fraudulent.
Kyagulanyi says an estimated 3,000 party members have been abducted across the country. Now, the president agrees that the security operatives have picked up scores of ‘terrorists and lawbreakers’ from different places including Kampala, Wakiso, Mpigi, Mukono, Nakasongola, and Kyotera during several operations.
The president blamed the said criminals for trying to intimidate his NRM supporters, destroying property and attempting to block the general elections.
According to figures read by the president, 242 people were arrested by the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) while 76 were arrested by a unit of commandos which was brought from Somalia to man security in different violence-prone areas during the elections.
Out of the 76 arrested by the commandos, Museveni says 17 have been released and 59 are still held helping the security to trace their accomplices.
On sanctions proposed by the European parliament against his government officials and departments, Museveni said it is laughable that some people think that Ugandans are dying to go to Europe. He said he needs a lot of persuasion to leave Uganda for Europe and he only travels because of the existing friendship. He said it is up to Ugandans to work and elevate their country into a modern society in case sanctions are imposed.
On Thursday this week, the European parliament debated and passed 19 resolutions accusing Ugandan security officials of human rights violations including kidnaps, murder, torture, election rigging and malpractice.
Museveni said, foreigners more often than not offer distortions when they meddle into affairs of other countries - little wonder that they supported an illiterate Idi Amin to carry out a coup only to recall their support within just a year in 1972 when he started kidnapping and murdering people.
NEW RICH UGANDA
Meanwhile, Museveni has set a new target that will finally end poverty in Uganda during his sixth term. He explained that under the new term, his government will emphasize social-economic transformation.
He disclosed that he intends to support three million houses every year to change their livelihoods and thus chase away poverty before turning to another group the following year. The president revealed that he has already ordered the government to budget accordingly.
With his plan, the government will be able to reach 15 million families in the country by the end of his new kisanja (term) which ends in 2026.
"In this kisanja, I have already instructed the government to prepare a budget to make sure that in each year we tackle 3 million families to get them from working for only the stomach to working for the stomach and the pocket. If you tackle 3 million by the end of 5 years you would have covered all the families and come back second round to give them additional support," said Museveni.
Museveni says the current poverty alleviation programme dubbed Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) has not been reaching out to many Ugandans. According to figures from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), the president notes that the programme was only able to reach out to 900,000 people which he said is very low.
Since the creation of Uganda's Poverty Eradication Action Plan in 1996, government has come up with series of programmes geared towards uplifting social-economic standards of all Ugandans with an aspiration of acquiring middle-income status.
Although poverty rates overall fell between 1993 and 2016, they rose slightly between 2013 and 2016. Statistics from Development Initiatives also indicate that while the proportion of people defined as poor has fallen, the proportion of people who live above the poverty line but remain vulnerable to falling back below it has increased.