By Kampala Post Reporter
President Yoweri Museveni has said that the battle of Birembo on the 10th of January 1985 was a major turning point in the National Resistance Army/Movement revolutionary struggle because it clearly showed to the then Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA) forces that the NRA was a force to reckon with.
Speaking on the occasion marking the 29th Heroes’ Day anniversary at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Parish Birembo Primary School in Birembo sub-county, Kakumiro district, the President who himself commanded the battle of Birembo 33 years ago, explained the significance of Birembo and why the government had decided to mark this year’s Heroes Day at Birembo.
This year’s Heroes’ Day was marked under the theme “Remerging our Heroes who kept the faith, fought the fight: the duty to enrich their gains is ours.” It was also attended by the visiting Ethiopian Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali.
President Museveni said that after the third and successful attack on Kabamba on the 7th of January 1985 where the NRA, under the command of General Salim Saleh got a lot of arms and ammunitions from the government forces, the UNLA decided to pursue them until they met them at Birembo where they had a day-long battle that saw the UNLA loose ground without taking a single ammunition from the NRA.
He added that it was this battle of Birembo and the battles that followed that were a turning point in the fight against the UNLA, leading to the Army mutiny and the collapse of the Obote government. He paid tribute to the 5 gallant heroes that lost their lives during the battle of Birembo and said that their blood was not in vain because Ugandans are enjoying the peace for which they shed blood.
Mr Museveni said that in addition to the Monument, a primary school, a technical institute that have been built by the NRM Government in memory of the battle of Birembo and the freedom fighters that lost their lives, government is to build a secondary school in the area for the same cause. He thanked the people of Bunyoro for the support they have given the Movement right from the days of the revolutionary struggle up to today.
On security, President Museveni assured Ugandans that his Government will defeat the senseless and cowardly acts of urban terrorism that has cost the country many lives just like the revolutionary forces have defeated other negative forces in the past, pacified the country and guaranteed border to boarder peace and security.
President Museveni said that although his government is opposed to the introduction of road blocks and other stringent security measures that would be an inconvenience to the public, government was to use intelligence both human and technological to ensure that this type of criminality is put to an end.
The President’s remarks follow last evening’s brutal murder of Arua Municiparity Member of Parliament, Col. Ibrahim Abiriga in Kampala by armed criminals. He attributed increased urban terrorism and criminality to the infiltration by the remnants of the Allied Democratic Forces’ who have taken advantage of the increase in the population especially in the urban centres to hide within the population and terrorise innocent citizens. He, however, warned that they will pay a heavy price.
“They have taken advantage of the freedom we the freedom fighters brought to Uganda to terrorise innocent Ugandans but they will pay for their actions with their blood because their actions are a serious source of anger to us,” he said.
He called on all Ugandans to cooperate with the government in its resolve to defeat the terrorists noting that new measures that will require all vehicles to install tracking devices, is to be introduced. He asked citizens to embrace it and not to take it as an intrusion on citizens’ privacy.
He used the occasion to warn citizens to take great precaution and avoid contracting the Ebola virus that is reported to be in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. He also asked the population to work to overcome household poverty by practicing commercial oriented agriculture that is profit oriented in order to ensure food security and income security. He further announced that government is to tarmac the road from Buhimba to Nalweyo and from Birembo to Kakumiro.
The visiting Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed Ali commended the existing relationship between Uganda and Ethiopia saying it has stood the test of time and is mutually beneficial. He reiterated Ethiopia’s commitment to the promotion of regional peace and security, regional trade and commitment to the cause of Africa.
He added that the brotherhood of the Ugandan and Ethiopian people can be justified by the joint operations the armed forces of the two countries have been conducting to bring about peace in Somalia and South Sudan.
On the same occasion, the visiting Prime Minister of Ethiopia was awarded Uganda’s highest medal - the Most Excellent Order of the Pearl of Africa. Many more Ugandans were awarded Nalubale, the Golden Jubilee and Luwero Triangle Medals.