Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch

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Africa Great Lakes Democracy Watch Blog. Our objective is to promote the institutions of democracy,social justice,Human Rights,Peace, Freedom of Expression, and Respect to humanity in Rwanda,Uganda,DR Congo, Burundi,Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya,Ethiopia, and Somalia. We strongly believe that Africa will develop if only our presidents stop being rulers of men and become leaders of citizens. We support Breaking the Silence Campaign for DR Congo since we believe the democracy in Rwanda means peace in DRC. Follow this link to learn more about the origin of the war in both Rwanda and DR Congo:

Sunday, July 25, 2010

What I confirmed after the Al-Shabab attacks

What I confirmed after the Al-Shabab attacks
By Tony O Otoa

The whole excitement of Africa hosting the World Cup this year was erased following the terrorist attacks in Kampala by the Somali group Al-Shabab. While watching the match with Harry Vanhoeven who I love to refer to as my European African brother, I couldn’t hold back the feeling that Africa was to be seen in a different light from now onwards. As a news junkie, I am always amazed at the African sections in the western media that portray disease and war. It is like African has nothing to offer!

A night that was supposed to be on of the best in my so far as an African ended immediately after with a phone call from a friend who could not hold back her shock. Initially, it seemed like one of the several prank calls I would expect after an exciting game but I was to be proved wrong.

The twin attacks in Kampala left at least 76 dead including a very good friend’s brother. For the first time in six years, Uganda felt vulnerable. The last time this kind of situation was felt was during the last attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army in the North in 2003. For many of the city souls, this was a new experience manifested at a large scale as the LRA never reached anywhere near Kampala. There were also a few ‘bomb’ attacks by the ‘ADF’ around bars in the late 90’s. The real perpetrators of these attacks are still contested among several circles.

After the confirmation of these attacks in Kampala through several phone calls, my mind was occupied by two very crucial things. The first one was about the security of the country and the botched intelligence. For all the resources spent on intelligence in the country, how could these terrorists register such success in their mission? It was known knowledge that the Al-Shabab were planning an attack. In fact, the media had this warning as early as six months ago. If there was areal effort to avoid these attacks, would that not have been enough time for the intelligence guys to act?
For terrorism to be defeated, intelligence is very essential and it has to be reliable. In Uganda today, intelligence is wasted on tracking the opposition and anyone considered an enemy of the system. If only this effort was put into focusing on national security and issues that really matter, terrorism in Uganda could be an old story.

Following the President’s plan to send more brothers and sisters to fight the Al-Shabab in their own territory in Somalia, there is need to guard our borders and step up vigilance. Let us remember that these are men (Al- Shabab) who are willing to blow themselves up for the sake of what they believe in not forgetting the idea of some virgins upon reaching heaven. They have nothing to loose and yet we have a lot to loose. Many people have called for the removal of the UPDF from Somalia, but this is not going to happen very soon. Uganda is in too deep to leave at this moment.

The second crucial thing that kept nagging my mind was the state of our healthcare in Uganda. Mulago hospital which is the country’s main referral hospital was tested on the day of the attacks. I was shocked to see victims of the blast on stretchers in the corridors of the emergency ward still bleeding . I know as a fact that Mulago struggles to contain such emergencies and I must say the doctors and nurses on that day were phenomenal. Despite the lack of equipment, medicine and manpower, some people were able to survive because of these great men and women who at the end of the day get paid pea nuts. Seeing President Museveni walk into Mulago and have no conscience of putting his officials for the poor state of the hospital was sickening but expected.

They say to know a man’s struggles, you need to walk a mile in his shoes. In my opinion, if I was walking in President Museveni’s shoes after such an incident, I would sort out the mess in Mulago hospital and get it back to life saving standards. I would make sure that there is sufficient medicine to treat the poor people who die because corrupt health officials channel most of the medicine including the donated ones to their private pharmacies. Lastly, I would rethink my foreign policy by emphasising what is best for my nation. Instead of sending more troops, I would buy more medicine, fix the pot holes in the city and nationwide and most importantly, I would realise it is time up for me and stand down. I really want to walk in those shoes.
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