JUNE 21, 2010: A Sinister Message From Nyakairima

A Sinister Message From Nyakairima
SOURCE: The East African
The opposition in Uganda has lately endured a rough ride.

A group of women protesting against the Electoral Commission were last week brutally beaten up by the police and detained without medical attention or access to legal services.

A few days earlier, opposition party Forum for Democratic Change president Dr Kiiza Besigye and his colleagues, who had been holding a peaceful demonstration, were whipped by a ragtag band of thugs right under the eyes of the police - who did nothing.

But last week, Army Chief General Aronda Nyakairima served up a classic.

The commander of a supposedly national and impartial institution gave stern warning that the army was on alert to "deal with the opposition" over these demonstrations!

The statement alone is shocking. But that Ugandans should hear such sentiments coming from no less a person than the army chief himself, is truly sinister.

It is a telling assertion that the army's allegiances lie, not with the population it is meant to serve, but with individuals under this regime.

Those who still live under the illusion that our army is professional should awaken from their slumber.

Were General Nyakairima's utterances thoughtlessly delivered in the heat of the moment?

Very unlikely. They were measured, and meant to deliver a statement of intent to the victims of excesses by the police and the countries shadowy security agencies.

The message was this: You will be hounded, beaten up, crushed without mercy.

Uganda is heading into a steamy election calendar.

There have been repeated calls to reform the Electoral Commission but these have landed on deaf ears.

Whenever the opposition takes to the streets to ask that democracy prevail, they are met with brute force.

It is frightening to imagine what General Nyakairima could unleash, if he lives up to his chilling promise.