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President Museveni retires from the army

[Uganda] President Museveni addressing the crowd at Barlonyo.
President Yoweri Museveni. (IRIN)

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni retired from the army on Tuesday, 18 years after his National Resistance Army seized power in a military coup. The army in return promoted him to the rank of full general.

"This is the first time in history that we have an army officer of the forces, commander-in-chief of the army, who is also president of Uganda, retiring voluntarily in accordance with the rule of law," Defence Minister Amama Mbabazi said as he awarded him a gift made of glass, stone and metal during a ceremony at the Bombo barracks on Tuesday.

Museveni, however, in his nearly two-hour speech, made it clear that he is far from retired. "I need to retire in order to fight new battles," he said, hinting that the next battlefield would be political.

The function was also Museveni's chance to award with special honours his three greatest allies since the war that put him in power. High-level delegates from Libya, Mozambique and Tanzania were conspicuously present, although promised attendance by their respective heads of state did not materialise.

Beyond all the praise and self-congratulation for a successful revolution that finally brought peace to Uganda in 1986, the pomp and splendour was overshadowed by the army's failures to tackle insecurity in the north of the country effectively.

Museveni's speech made only cursory references to the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which has displaced 1.5 million people in the north and east. "I salute the resistance of the people of northern Uganda and the army against vicious terrorism," he said, promising once again that "this war will be over soon".

Museveni repeated his assertion that donor restrictions on defence spending are to blame for military failures against the LRA. "We should never again listen to pressure which stops us from spending adequately [on the military]," he said.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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