Kampala (Agenzia Fides). "It is a matter of great embarrassment for the army that a soldier assigned as a bodyguard ends up killing those he was supposed to protect", Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said at the funeral of Labour Minister Charles Okello Engola, killed on May 2 by his bodyguard, a young soldier who later committed suicide.
"I am deeply angered to see that such a good cadre died at the hands of someone produced by our system", remarked the President, who called on the army to return to the spirit of the past, that of the National Resistance Army (NRA), the Museveni-led guerrilla formation that took power in 1986.
"We were rebuilding our country and i was the highest paid at the time. I appeal to Ugandans and especially the political class to come back to the National Resistance Army (NRA) doctrine. Our doctrine was, to work for patriotism, not for pay", remarked the President who is also the Chief of the Armed Forces.
Museveni then urged the people not to reduce the cause of the late minister's death to low pay in the army, adding that he was awaiting the conclusions of the investigations.
But the issue of low military pay is one that the Head of State did not want to elude by appealing to patriotism: "Are you trying to mean that every time a soldier goes on patrol, he should get an allowance? How shall we sustain this? What sort of army are we building? So these soldiers when they come from the army and enter the civilian sector they get caught up in that ‘mercenarism’ of the parasites who do not care about their country, but rather ask for money which is not there", Museveni said, addressing the military.
"Charles Engola had nothing to do with the cause of his death. There is no way you can say the soldier did what he did because of the actions of Minister Engola Charles", added the President who announced a campaign against corruption.
Minister Engola was shot dead near his home on 2 May by soldier Wilson Sabiiti, who had been serving as his bodyguard for only a month. The Minister was hit by 28 bullets fired by the soldier and then turned the weapon against himself. Engola's aide-de-camp was also wounded.
The reason behind the murder is unclear, but according to the local press it was related to a dispute over the guard's salary. "Witnesses say the soldier was shouting that he had not been paid for a long time despite working for a minister", online newspaper NilePost reported.
This is not the first attempt on the life of a Minister in Uganda: on June 1, 2021, General Edward Katumba Wamala, Minister of Transport, had escaped an ambush in Kampala. The daughter and the driver were killed in the attack.
On May 7, Ibrahim Tusubira, also known as Isma Olaxes, a famous Ugandan blogger and opponent of Museveni, was killed in Kyanja (the same place where the Engola Minister was assassinated). (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 12/5/2023)