By: Ismael Kasooha, KAPCHORWA

Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja has hailed the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) for being a professional people’s army that has brought pride to the country and region through maintaining peace, security and stability.

“The UPDF is indeed a professional and people’s army that has not only protected the territorial integrity of this country but also helped the people during times of war and peace,” said Nabbanja.
The Prime Minister said this on Friday January 28, 2022 at Boma Grounds in Kapchorwa, while officiating at the regional launch of events to mark the Defence Week and Tarehe Sita.

She said that with the guidance of  President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Government chose the Elgon Region to host this year’s Tarehe Sita and Defense Forces Week activities mainly because of the historic significance of this region as the place where the struggles to liberate Uganda from the undemocratic regimes of 1970s and 80s were launched.

 “I am pleased to join you today on the regional launch of activities to mark 41st Tarehe Sita and Defense Forces Week and particularly pleased that this year, the celebration are taking place in this region where the National Resistance Army (NRA) and UPDF has very strong historical roots,” said Nabbanja.

The prime minister Robinah Nabbanja watering the tree she planted at the Teryet high Altitude Training Center

This year’s 41st Tarehe Sita is being celebrated under the theme, ‘Retracing the People’s struggle for peace and security for a modern Uganda’ and the regional launch took place at Kapchorwa Boma grounds in Kapchorwa Municipality, Kapchorwa District.   Nabbanja said that the theme for this year’s commemoration is timely and extremely important to the people of Uganda and the region.

She emphasised that Mbale City was the place where a lot of planning for the commencement of the struggle was held and therefore befitting to host the national celebrations.

“Fellow country men and women, it is always important to remember our history, and this event here in the Mt. Elgon area enables us to retrace the history of our beloved UPDF,” said the Prime Minister.

Nabbanja said that retracing the people’s struggle for peace and security for a modern Uganda and acknowledgment of the earlier efforts by our leaders and people of Uganda for freedom and peace.

She said that this year’s celebrations will enable current and future generations to know where we have come from, and therefore, where we are going.

 The Prime Minister said that Uganda has sailed through the most violent and turbulent storms in our history and thanks to the discipline and efforts of the UPDF.

“The security of life, property and borders of our people and country have been restored and protected as a deliberate effort,” said Nabbanja.

She said that before capturing power in 1986, the prevalence of insecurity in Uganda and parts of other African countries was high.

“The UPDF has truly served Uganda and even gone beyond our borders to secure and bring peace to our neighbouring friendly countries like Somalia and South Sudan as part of our African spirit,” she said.

The premier said that in Uganda, the UPDF has also demonstrated that in peaceful times, you are able to add value to a number of causes and referred to  the houses in Bulambuli that are accommodating people who were displaced by landslides in Bududa that were constructed by the UPDF.

Nabbanja said that because of the high quality of work and discipline, it was not surprising that President Yoweri Museveni directed that UPDF Engineering Brigade should be given construction works in a number of public works.

“I am therefore very pleased with the lineup of events that the army is undertaking in the lead up to the 6th of February 2022. It is these outreach efforts of supporting communities, providing medical services, repairing schools, health centres and homes of selected individuals that demonstrate that UPDF is truly a people’s army,” Nabbanja said.

She thanked the leadership of the Ministry of Defence & Veteran Affairs and UPDF for the consistency they have exhibited in marking this day over the years.

Responding to issues raised by the local leaders including Members of Parliament about the pockets of attacks from the neighboring Karimajong, State Minister for Defence Jacob Oboth Oboth assured the people in Sebei sub region of government’s commitment to resolve the issue of attacks either peacefully or otherwise.

“The issue of these attacks from the Karimajong shall be resolved for the people to enjoy their peace as it has been. We are engaging our counterparts in Kenya to deal with the source of the guns,” said Oboth Oboth.

Brig. Gen Joseph Balikudembe the Commander of the UPDF third Infantry Division and chairperson of the disarmament exercise, code named ” Usalama Kwa Wote” said that in 2021 alone, 223 guns, 2094 ammunitions were recovered and 451 criminals were arrested, charged and sentenced.

Gen. Balikudembe assured the people in the Sebei region that the UPDF will not relent until all the isolated cases of cattle rustling are eliminated.

Gen. Peter Elwelu, the Deputy Commander of Defence Forces (CDF) said that the UPDF shall always do their best to provide the service which you deserve.

“We are the light of this country, when the light goes off in peace we go into darkness and when it is lighting we can see and do everything.

“We are determined to maintain the light that our people struggled for, the light of peace and security. And I want to assure all Ugandans that nobody will ever take away this peace and security.  Some may try but as Jesus said, for a little while we suffer but peace will return,” said Elwelu.

The UPDF are conducting a series of activities in the region to celebrate this year’s Tarehe Sita including health camps where people shall be offered a range of free services, construction of a school, community service among others.

The climax of the Tarehe Sita celebrations shall be held in Mbale on February, 6, 2022.

The Prime Minister also inspected the progress of the Teryet High Altitude training center and assured the people that such interventions are meant to develop the talents of the people.

“These are the fruits of the NRM government and we want more people in the region and the country to develop their talents,” said Nabbanja.

The hostel for the Athletes at Teryet High Altitude Training Center

he 3.2km training track at Teryet High Altitude Training Center

The training center has a 3.2km track with fitness spots, a tuff, and a hostel for the athletes on top of the primary and secondary school available in the vicinity. END