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Post by sol_drethedon on Thu Apr 18, 2013 8:34 pm


In his efforts to undermine the UNLF in order to restore his dictatorial rule with the support of Tanzania, Obote had put that faction of that the army that constituted his fighting forces during the anti-Amin struggle at his disposal. This force was barely 600 men when the war started. It had expanded with illegal recruitment until it now numbered about 2,000 men in the re-organized UNLA. There were also about 22,000 'militias' trained in Kitgum, Apach, Soroti and Kumi under the leadership of his own men with the support of the TPDF. Thus, while the UNLF was trying its best to build a national army drawn from all the areas of the country with Tanzanian support, the Tanzanians were at the same time also either directly assisting te recruitment and training of factional armies in the country, or giving tacit approval to them. This enaqbled Obote and his subsidiary force led by Museveni to strengthen themselves militarily against the political arrangements of the UNLF. The coup was the result of this contradiction.

As pointed out earlier, Obote, Museveni and Ejalu/P'Ojok at Moshi had insisted on the formation of a co-ordination body of the fighting groups rather than a political front which would bring together all political groups inclusive of all the fighters. Obote demanded the separation of the issue of a joint command of the fighting groups from the whole issue of forming a broadly based front of other organizations. The latter body was to merely act as political and diplomatic spokesmen of the 'fighters'. According to Museveni, the representation at Moshi should have been based on the 'weight of military strength' of the groups that met. It was for this reason that he had insisted in his paper to the conference against ' uniting organizations and individuals who are engaged in the struggle at different levels both qualitatively and quantitatively'. Such 'general political unity' he warned , was bound to 'degenerate into fascism'. Obote had, in his letter of 11th March 1980, urged for the further 'selection, recruitment and training of additional personnel for the integrated force' of fighting groups, under Tanzanian law in the liberated zones.

Thus it can be seen that the Obote-Museveni-Ejalu P'Ojok militarist cliques were combining as 'fighting groups' to the exclusion of all other national democratic forces opposed to the military dictatorship and, with Tanzanian assistance, they wanted to impose themselves on the people of Uganda, when in fact they were not in effective control of the war! Thus dictatorial approach to the Ugandan problem is what Nyerere in effect assisted in bringing to the fore in the coup d'etat of the Military Commission. Indeed, the neo-Trotskyist clique referred to earlier articulated this position very clearly in a number of articles in a Kampala paper called the Weekly Topic of 16th and 23rd May 1980 a few days after the coup.

According to the neo-Trotskyists, before the Moshi Conference unity of the fighting groups could have been achieved, but the 'gang of four' (meaning those members of the Committee for Democratic Unity who played a prominent role in organizing the conference) in the Committee for the Promotion of Unity among Ugandans 'strenuously opposed such unity'. Consequently, according to the neo-Trotskyists, this group 'maneuvered itself' into positions of influence in the Front, 'to ensure that the KM(Obote's fighting group) and FRONASA do not control the political wing of the Front'. But according to them, 'the gang of four' did not manage to 'gain control of one of the most important organs of the Front- the army', and this was what made possible the coup to save the situation! This opportunistic clique, which camouflaged itself under the 'ideas' of Marxism, was becoming the most articulate spokesman of the dictatorship. They did not see the significance of unity of all anti-fascist forces at the political level and, with their permanent dualism, they erected a barrier between the military and the political forces. It is for this reason that they even went to the extent of accusing 'the gang of four' of having 'hijacked the (Moshi) Conference from the military plane to the political plane!'

In support of the coup they stated:

"No doubt the Commission's actions with it's pronouncements add up to nothing but to a peaceful coup d'etat. It is a step that the fighting forces should have normally (sic) taken on the 11th of April, 1979 and as it has been often stated Ugandans would have been equally happy as long as Amin was no more (Weekly Topic, 23rd May 1980)":

Thus, for the neo-Trotskyists, as for the Oboteists and Musevenists, aq dictatorship after Amin would have been acceptable to Ugandans, 'so long as Amin was no more'. Since Obote's return after the coup, they have come to understand that in fact that was not so. The masses of the people have expressed their protests against the militarists in the massive swarming of the opposition ranks, expressing itself as support for DP.

These positions expounded above help to explain the coup that occurred on 12th May 1980. The removal of Brigadier Oyite Ojok as Chief- of Staff by Binaisa, which sparked the coup, was prompted by his insubordination and his factionalism in the UNLFA. His personal commitment to Obote politically also made his loyalty to the UNLF government and to the UNLA questionable. This partisanship was proved by his

clandestine training and support for the Kitgum, Apach, Soroti and Kumi 'militias', which wasnot being undertaken under the UNLF. In the recent past, since the NEDC election proposals had been approved by the NCC, he had taken on an openly hostile political stand against the UNLF. For instance, at two rallies - one in Tororo and another in Apach - he had openly denounced the government for it's inefficiency' and for failing to give 'security' to the population, for which he was partly responsible. His removal was therefore justified, and the president had the powers under the constitution which had not in any way been modified by the Moshi accords to remove him.

The reaction by Oyite Ojok to his removal in seeking the support of the Military Commission - no more than a sub committee of the NEC- turned his disobedience into a rebellion which resulted into the coup. The argument that the president should have followed the 'procedure' and that he should have consulted the commission had no political or legal basis. Indeed, Nyerere acknowledged secretly that Binaisa had the powers to remove Oyite Ojok. But since Nyerere himself was implicitly involved in these moves over a long time, he could not politically take a firm stand against the rebellion.

The argument that his military officers took sides with Oyite Ojok on the spot without his backing, can not absolve him from his responsibility to the Ugandan government, which he had agreed in various undertakings to protect pending the training of a Ugandan army. His inability to respond to the call by Binaisa to put down the rebellion in Kampala, which the Tanzanian forces could have done without firing a shot went to betray his intentions in Uganda. Indeed Obote's 'heroic' return to Uganda, which was planned both in Tanzania and in Uganda, within two weeks of the coup, went to confirm his support for the rebellion which prepared the way for Obote's return. While Nyerere assured Obote of Tanzanian security, including an air force plane to return him to Uganda, he did not grant such protection to a president with whom he had entered into political and legal obligations to protect the UNLF and it's government in Uganda until Uganda could train it's own police and army!

Museveni on his part was of great service to the coup. He argued that the action taken by the Military Commissio was not a coup but a 'political action' by the commission 'as an organ of the Front'. Muwanga, the chairman of the Commission and Oyite Ojok, the man behind it all, on the other hand knew what was the actual position. In his address to the NCC on 22nd May 1980, Muwanga told his supreme organ of the Front that the commission had decreed that it's action in overthrowing Binaisa and the UNLF government was 'irreversible and could not be questioned by that body. In their fast decree, the military junta had in fact usurped all the powers of the other organs of the front including those of the council as the supreme political organ of the Front and as a parliament. Under the proclamation, they 'assumed the powers of the
government' and constituted a titular 'presidential commission' and a 'cabinet' in which they had 'full rights' to participate. They decreed that 'no action or other legal proceedings could be taken against the commission, UNLA, Uganda police or the military or police personnel of Tanzania for their activities during the period of the commission's seizure of power. They further decreed that, should any conflict arise between their decree and the Constitution of the republic and that of the UNLF, their proclamation would prevail.

This highly dictatorial move of the commission was only acceptable to those involved in it. But the illusion that a unity of the 'fighting forces' which had been in Moshi would be an answer to the Uganda problem was soon dispelled. Museveni was the first one to denounce, in his usual ambivalent way, those who were trying to use dictatorial means to put themselves in power. He was referring to Obote. He also denounced the building up of illegal 'private armies' to back up individuals for leadership. He himself was one of those with a faction he was nursing in the UNLA for his own claim to dictatorial power. Thus, whereas he worked tirelessly to advance his own position within the UNLA, he was at the same time denouncing others who were trying to do the same. Museveni was now making noise because he was being progressively out-maneuvered by the Obote forces who were in the command structure of the UNLA.

The massive protest of the people turning up at rallies organized by the DP in contrast to those organized by the UPC, has demonstrated the disapproval of the Tanzanian- supported coup led by Oyite Ojok/ Museveni/Muwanga and other dictators in their effort to impose Obote on the country against all democratic aspirations of the people who supported the Front, which was now being destroyed. The view that the UNLF had become an organ for unity and democracy was well echoed by the independent Kampala weekly paper The Equator of May 19, 1980, when it stated after the coup:

"If the people who have been talking to us have been sincere in whatever they have been saying, UNLF has been the country's hope to achieve unity, democracy, social progress and national independence without any hindrance . . . 'The Equator' is of the strong view that the Front provides the best machinery to ensure democracy in the country at this stage in our history. We should not destroy it or any of it's organs. Without it the future could be as bleak as the past we have gone through.

This expressed the sentiments of the people of Uganda, who have suffered so much at the hands of dictatorship. The earlier emergence of a solid national movement, which would have led to people to struggle progressively for their rights and against imperialist exploitation, had aborted. Now UNLF appeared to be the instrument that could mobilize the people towards this end. The forces of dictatorship had converged to overthrow it in order to reimpose their dictatorial rule. The Obote forces- whose civilian dictatorship partly opened the way for the fascist dictatorship of Amin - wanted to stage a come back with Tanzanian assistance, in order to start their dictatorship from where they left off.

In these circumstances, the people of Uganda had only one option left - to re-organize themselves under the UNLF in order to develop the strength to fight for a new democratic revolution in which the vast majority - the workers, the peasants and the urban petty bourgeoisie - would form a broad alliance of forces to overthrow the dictatorship. The working class leadership would be vital to such continued struggle and the next stage in Uganda's national struggle was clearly posed for all Ugandans to respond to it's clarion call.





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