Hundreds of policemen and UPDF soldiers have been deployed in Nakaseke to prevent planned protests by bush war veterans over delayed compensation for helping NRA/M come to power. Traffic is being closely monitored and heavy charcoal trucks have been banned from travelling until after the celebrations.
Nakaseke was selected to host this year’s National Heroes' Day Celebrations on Sunday this weekend and they will be marked at district headquarters in Butalangu town council. The district is remembered as centre of National Resistance Movement/Army (NRM/A) bush war of 1981-86 that led to down fall of Milton Obote II regime.
Hundreds of policemen have been deployed in various towns, swamps located along Matuuga, Ssemuto and Kapeeka road and traffic movement strictly controlled.
The Savannah Region Police Spokesperson Lameck Kigozi says that Police and other security agencies have got information that that veterans of National Resistance Movement bush war of 1981-1986 were planning to stage protests before or on National Heroes Day to disrupt the celebrations as way of expressing their grievances to President Yoweri Museveni.
He explained that the veterans are bitter over delayed compensation and they are backed by residents who are also unhappy government programmes that include National Agricultural Advisory Services that have failed to improve their livelihoods.
He explains that policemen both in uniform and plainclothes have drawn from Kampala, Nakaseke, Luweero, Nakasongola, Buikwe and Kayunga to beef up security and quell the protests.
He adds that police and UPDF soldiers are also there to prevent any terrorist attacks. He says police has put in place strict checks on movement of trucks especially those carrying charcoal from the area. Kigozi says that all trucks carrying charcoal from the area have been banned until the celebrations are over.
However a cross section of veterans who spoke to URN Reporter could not deny confirm or deny police claims that they were planning to stage protests ahead of the celebrations.
Disan Kibirige, a member of Kapeeka 1981-86 Liberation War Militia Group, says that they have lost hope in officials of Ministry of Luweero triangle because they have failed to compensate them. He explains some of their colleagues are living in abject poverty whereas others have died with no compensation yet they played a big role in bringing the NRM government in power
Kibirige says that the veterans only wish to draw the president's attention to their miserable living conditions. He describes the deployment as a threat to their right to express their dissatisfaction. If they are blocked from accessing the president, they will boycott the function.
Another veteran John Mpagi says that he is not aware of police claims but would want President Museveni to address the delayed compensation because they have waited enough.
A representative on Nakaseke Ex combatants Association Retired Sergeant John Chrysostom says that they have already submitted their grievances to Nakaseke Deputy Resident Commissioner John Kaddu to forward them to president and they have no intention to disrupt the function.He faults the police for spreading fear in the community yet the ex-combatants are peace loving Ugandans.
The Outgoing minister of Luweero Triangle and current Minister of Information Rose Namayanja says that the president is quite familiar with the complaints of veterans. She says it is insufficient funds that have hindered their compensation.
Namayanja explains that ministry has managed to pay more than 15,000 veterans from 2009 to date and the ministry expects to receive 10 billion shillings in financial year 2013/14 to ensure that others are cleared. Namayanja adds that they have appealed to President Museveni so that government increases funding so that 40, 000 veterans are paid in next three years.
The planned protests are the latest in a series of hiccups the organisers have had to deal with. Residents and local leaders in Nakaseke have criticized attempts to encourage citizens to fund the celebrations from their own pocket through contributions.