Army Day fête sparks off jitters in Lango



The State Defence minister, (Rtd) Col Charles Okello Engola, has appealed for calm in Lango sub-region where a section of the population has raised objection to plans by the military to celebrate the Army Day there.

“Where you are going to celebrate, there are those who will accept you and those who think you are celebrating the overthrow of their son, Obote,” said Erute County North Member of Parliament, Mr Charles Gutomoi.

Formally called Terehe Sita, the annual week-long events commemorate February 6, 1981, the day the National Resistance Army (NRA) rebels led by Yoweri Museveni waged the guerilla war against the government of Milton Obote who hailed from Lango.

The NRA in January 1986 toppled Gen Tito Okello Lutwa, six months after he deposed Obote in a coup. The UPDF, as NRA was re-named in the 1995 Constitution, celebrates the Army Day by carrying out community works to improve civil-military relations.

This year, UPDF plans to hold the 36th Terehe Sita national activities in Apac District in Lango, and some residents and political leaders are unhappy.
They instead consider the panned festivities a mockery.

Such references, minister Engola said, are harmful propaganda and he urged the people in Lango sub-region to “forget the past” since their sons and daughters, alongside integrated ex-rebels, serve in the country’s military.

“I will go there [to Lango] and speak in the language they understand. UPDF did not overthrow Obote,” he said.

Gen David Muhoozi, the new Chief of Defence Forces, said: “We are not going to celebrate victory of one group over another, but [our] unity [as a country].”

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