Katumba Warns as UPDF Gets New AMISOM Contingent Commander

CDF Gen Katumba addressing Uganda troops enroute Somalia recently

Alarmed that bodies of dead civilians are turning up on a “regular” basis in the Burundian capital, pill Bujumbura, and in the wake of the killing of the son of a prominent human rights defender, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has called for an end to the killings and widespread impunity that has characterized the recent violence.

“The recurring violence and killings in Burundi must stop,” declared Mr. Ban in a statement issued by his spokesperson in New York, in which he underlines the responsibility of the Burundian authorities to protect the civilian population, regardless of political affiliation, “and ensure that the widespread impunity for these heinous acts is brought to an immediate end.”

The widespread killings in Burundi has raised concerns that a ‘slow genocide’ could be underway.

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The statement said the Secretary-General is alarmed that in recent weeks, the discovery of the bodies of civilian victims, many apparently summarily executed, has become a regular occurrence in several neighbourhoods of Bujumbura, where just on Saturday, Welly Nzitonda, the son of prominent Burundian human rights defender Pierre-Claver Mbonimpa was found dead following his arrest by the police in the morning.

Mbonimpa himself is recuperating from gunshot wounds inflicted on his a few months ago in Burundi. He was flown out of the country for treatment.

The violence in Burundi is escalating to catastrophic proportions

The violence in Burundi is escalating to catastrophic proportions

Further, Mr. Ban in the statement also condemned public statements that appear to be aimed at inciting violence or hatred towards different groups in Burundian society.

“Inflammatory rhetoric is reprehensible and dangerous; it will only serve to aggravate the situation in the country. [The Secretary-General] calls for accountability for those who have engaged in publicly inciting violence,” the statement said.

The UN chief also stressed the importance to intensify all efforts to find a political settlement to the crisis in Burundi and called on all parties, including the national authorities, civil society, and opposition, whether they are in Burundi or abroad, “to put an immediate end to the propagation of hate speech, renounce violence, and engage in good faith with the ongoing facilitation of the East African Community.”

The statement also called on all Burundians and Government leaders to create conditions for a credible and inclusive dialogue to address the deep political challenges the country currently faces.

“The United Nations extends its full support and assistance to all efforts aimed at promoting a peaceful settlement. Time is of the essence,” said Mr. Ban.

Mbonimpa execution

Echoing that sentiment, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein also strongly condemned the killing of Welly Nzitonda and expressed alarm at the worsening situation in the country.

“This is second member of Mbonimpa’s family to have been killed in recent weeks,” said Mr. Zeid in a statement.

He also added that Mr. Nzitonda was reportedly arrested by police on Friday morning around 11 AM (CAT) and his body was found in the afternoon in the neighbourhood of Mutakura.

The High Commissioner also recalled that Mr. Mbonimpa also narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in August 2015, for which he is still undergoing treatment abroad and added that one of his sons-in-law was also killed on 9 October.

“This assassination reinforces fears that there is a systematic policy of targeting members of the opposition, journalists, human rights defenders and ordinary citizens perceived to be opposing the Government. So far there has been complete impunity for these crimes,” said Mr. Zeid.

The UN human rights office announced that the High Commissioner Zeid will be addressing the UN Security Council on the rapidly deteriorating situation in Burundi on Monday, 9 November.
The Chief of the Defense Forces for the UPDF Gen. Edward Katumba has warned soldiers heading to Somalia under the African Union AMISOM peace keeping force to tread carefully in the war-ravaged area or they risk losing their lives to the Al Shabaab insurgents.

Gen. Katumba made the remarks on Friday evening at the flag-off ceremony of the Uganda battle group XVII at the Peace Support Operations Centre in Ssingo, ed Nakaseke district.

“You are not going for honeymoon in Somalia but to face the enemy and that’s Al Shabaab. Its true they have been weakened since 2007 but you need to be careful as you approach them because they are dying horses who are throwing  kicks that might land on you, malady ” the UPDF CDF advised.

He added,” Remember they (Al Shabaab) are also watching your movements and they will definitely know there is a new group that has come in and will want to test you. Be ready for the baptism from the insurgents but be firm and they will know you are a strong force.”


The Chief of the Defense Forces said that the AMISOM soldiers tend to be active and alert in the first 3 months of the mission but they relax in the following period due to absence of serious battles with insurgents.

He said that the insurgents are always monitoring with a keen eye the movements of the forces adding that in case of laxity by the forces, the terrorists would strike.

“After 3 months of no action, many of you will relax but the terrorists will strike. This is the time the leadership is much needed from commanders .Every tactic, technique and drill given to you is crucial while in Mogadishu and don’t disregard them or you will land into the enemies trap.”


The UPDF commander said that the mission in Somalia has been nicknamed Dose and Die which he said simply means the troops have to always be alert.

Ugandan Flag

Gen. Katumba urged the troops to emulate their predecessors in flying the Ugandan flag high up by being disciplined and respecting the Somali natives.

“All units that have been there before you have done us proud.  This has been the case with other troops on missions in South Sudan, Central African Republic and Congo who proved that UPDF is a pro-people force. Respect their culture and religion or else you will land into problems from them.”

He added that the mission in Somalia will not end soon, partly due to lack of commitment by the government to ensure that the country gets a national army of its own, strong and independent.

“The Somali Government is not enthusiastic on building the national army but we would be willing to leave Somalia for them to work on their own security,” he said.

Meanwhile, the UPDF AMISOM has appointed the Masindi based   Artillery Division Commander Brig. Sam Okiding as the new contingent commander replacing Brig. Sam Kavuma who had spent a year in Somalia as commander.

The UPDF sent 2777 soldiers in battle group XVII to replace UGABAG XVI that is soon returning to Uganda after spending a year in the sandy horn of African country.


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