Political Interference, System Breakdown Hindering Weigh Bridge Operations

Mediators in the South Sudan peace talks have re-echoed their stand on warring parties to sign the final peace agreement on Monday as scheduled.

The IGAD-Plus which is a consortium of regional body IGAD and international powers and organizations on Saturday night released a precise statement saying August 17 is the end game for the government and rebel leadership who have been dilly-dallying since early 2014 when the dialogue began.

The deal will see Machar appointed First Deputy Vice President and given almost 200 bodyguards.

The rebels will take a sizeable share of cabinet posts and South Sudan capital, mind Juba, will be demilitarised.

Juba has previously warned that making such concessions tantamount to rewarding Machar for his atrocities and attempting to overthrow a legitimately elected government.

ChimpReports broke the news in June that August 17 was the date agreed upon by mediators to bring the 20-months-long bloody conflict to a peaceful resolution.

The one week consultations between the representatives of the Government of Republic of South Sudan (GRSS) and the SPLA-In-Opposition started on August 6-12 in the neighbouring Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

Meanwhile, the planned two-day negotiations between the two principals in the conflict – President Kiir and SPLA-IO leader, Dr Riek Machar was scheduled to kick off on Thursday.


The face-to-face arrangement didn’t take place as Kiir remained in capital Juba to first exhaustively hear from his countrymen and women.

President Museveni and Sudan’s Omar Al-Bashir arrived in Addis Ababa on Saturday with Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta joining them on Sunday morning.

The arrival of regional leaders in Ethiopia without a prior breakthrough between Kiir and Machar implies the seriousness of the mediator in ensuring the two rivals agree on a transitional government by close of business tomorrow.

“We the members of IGAD-Plus have gathered in Addis Ababa as planned for consultations on August 15th – 16th and the IGAD-Plus Summit on August 17th. We affirm our collective commitment to this process, and to the established timeline,” the leaders said in a statement.

“We expect the parties to be represented in Addis Ababa by their principals in order to negotiate in good faith and sign an agreement on 17th of August 2015 as scheduled.”

Deadly conflict 

The agreement is to realize the Transitional Government of National Unity (TOGNU) to bring an end to the brutal conflict characterized by worst human atrocities including rape, burning humans to death and child conscription into army activities.

The deadly internal conflict broke out in late 2013 – just four years after the oil rich nation gained her independence from Sudan.

According to United Nations figures the crisis has claimed over 20,000 lives, displaced about 1.5 million people internally, 600,000 others to the neighbouring nations while 4 million people which is approximately one third of the total population are facing acute famine.
The battle-hardened deputy commander of the failed coup in Burundi has sternly warned that should president Museveni fall short of quickly finding a permanent solution to the worsening political crisis in the troubled East African nation, ambulance “the other option will be war.”

General Leonard Ngendakumana, page who was until recently Burundi’s deputy Chief of Intelligence Services, commanded daring specialised military operations in the Burundi civil war in which over 300,000 people died.

Hardened by over ten years of active combat action on the battlefield, Ngendakumana says Burundi continues to move closer to the edge of what he described as a “serious conflict if the mediator is not careful.”

Speaking exclusively to ChimpReports in the wee hours of Thursday, 47-year-old Ngendakumana warned: “With Museveni, we expect that things may change.”

He was quick to add that Museveni is the only chance the country has to realise peace.

“We think that with President Museveni, we may get peace. If Museveni fails, the other option will be war. That’s why he should be careful.”

On Tuesday morning, Generals Kale Kayihura and Charles Angina saw off President Museveni at Entebbe International Airport to Burundi.

Instead of flying direct to Bujumbura, Museveni chose to first land at Kigali International Airport where he was welcomed by Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo and Uganda’s Ambassador to Rwanda Richard Kabonero.

Kabonero accompanied Museveni in a convoy of armoured cars via the Rwanda-Burundi border post.

President Museveni was received by his President Pierre Nkurunziza at Hotele Baleir Residence in Bujumbura.

He also received a red carpet welcome, a guard of honour and National Anthem played by the Burundi Armed Forces.

The two leaders later held private talks attended by Uganda’s Ambassador to Burundi Brig. Matiya Kyaligonza.

During the talks, Museveni advised the people of Burundi that for them to be prosperous, they must settle down, talk less about power and term limits but become producers for the market.

He asked them to support the integration of East Africa which offers them bigger opportunities and markets for their products and through which they will become prosperous.

He further asked them to create a conducive environment for private sector growth and attract investments.

“Guns must be a monopoly of the State which is accountable to the people and must only be used purposefully like a surgeon’s knife,” he said.

Burundi leaders listening to Museveni's speech
Burundi leaders listening to Museveni’s speech

Opposition fury

Despite participating in a series of talks, opposition forces believe a lot needs to be done to realise peace including Nkurunziza quitting office.

Asked why Ngendakumana did not participate in this week’s two-day dialogue, the renegade General responded: “We have not been invited for mediation talks. But we want to inform the national and international community that we have started our own action to restore the Constitution and Arusha agreement.”

Pressed to explain whether his men were among some of the rebels captured by Burundi forces following attacks in Kayanza last week, Ngendakumana responded in the affirmative.

“Our troops were attacked by Nkurunziza’s forces in Kayanza (Northern Burundi) and Chibitoke. We responded accordingly. I can tell you battles are going on in Chibitoke,” he added.

Asked to shed more light on the opposition forces’ strength compared to government troops, Ngendakumana said, “Our troops are not only in Chibitoke but in many provinces of our country including Bujumbura. We have enough support in the country. Nkurunziza must accept to go or we will show him that abrogating the Constitution can be challenged militarily.”


Museveni addressing a gathering of Burunidan leaders on Tuesday
Museveni addressing a gathering of Burunidan leaders on Tuesday

Violence broke out in Burundi this year after President Nkurunziza moved to seek a third term in office.

He argued that his first election in 2005 was by Parliament’s appointment which saw him spent the part of his time trying to build consensus to run the state.

Presidential Spokesperson, Willy Nyamitwe said after the first term, Nkurunziza, 52, a former rebel leader and educator, got his first election by adult suffrage in 2010.

“The Constitution has not been violated. It provides that a President serves for two terms on people’s mandate,” he told ChimpReports recently in Kampala.

But the international community and opposition claim the spirit of the Arusha peace accords that provide that a President “shall be elected for a term of five years, renewable only once; no one may serve more than two presidential terms,” should be respected for peace and stability.

Yet, Nyamitwe insists the country’s Constitution reigns Supreme over other previous accords.

Born in the province of Ngozi in northern Burundi where President Museveni received a rapturous welcome on Tuesday, Nkurunziza is a son of a Tutsi mother and a Hutu father.

His dad served as governor of two provinces before being killed in 1972 during a wave of ethnic violence that resulted in the deaths of more than 100,000 Hutus and more than 10,000 Tutsis.

During his reign, Nkurunziza has been credited for building hundreds of schools and medical facilities across the country.

Museveni being welcomed by his host Nkurunziza in Burundi on Tuesday
Museveni being welcomed by his host Nkurunziza in Burundi on Tuesday


Nevertheless, Nkurunziza’s rivals insist he has served two terms irrespective of who elected him and should therefore relinquish power.

“Our Constitution is clear, Nkurunziza has done two terms. No President is supposed to serve for more than two terms. This is against our Constitution and Arusha peace agreement,” said Ngendakumana.

“We will not allow him to violate these important documents. Nkurunziza has to go; there is nothing to negotiate him. If he wants to stay, we will fight him. And you know; you cannot defeat the people.”

Challenged on his source of confidence considering that they failed to execute a coup even in the absence of the president, Ngendakumana said, “What made us to fail was only betrayal by the Minister of defence.”

On May 13 May 2015, as Nkurunziza was attending an emergency session of heads-of-state in Tanzania, army general Godefroid Niyombare, whom Ngendakumana deputises, said he was “dismissing President Pierre Nkurunziza”.

The coup was crushed in a few hours with Nkurunziza’s loyalist army officers rolling out tanks in Bujumbura and violently dispersing opposition supporters who had poured on the streets to celebrate the perceived collapse of government.

Some of the coup leaders were arrested and jailed.

Ngendakumana told this website that, “The Defence Minister who was part of us gave fresh orders to stop our coup. We could not control this situation. We lost control at the last minute.”

Regarding the formation of a Transitional Council of eminent opposition leaders to cause regime change in Burundi, Ngendakumana said, “other political parties are organising themselves to participate in forum against Nkurunziza. They want to seek international support. We are supportive of them. We will continue fighting,” he added.

The military General who also served as Director of Internal Security said he had heard of reports that Rwandan genocidal militia, FDLR, had crossed into Burundi but could not confirm the allegations.

“We heard some information related to that – that FDLR were supporting him (Nkurunziza) but we can’t substantiate,” he observed.

Ngendakumana fought for more than ten years (1993 to 2004) to deliver “democracy in Burundi” which he said “must be realised.”

President Museveni returned from Burundi on Wednesday.

Uganda’s Defence minister Crispus Kiyonga travels to Bujumbura today to continue mediating in the crisis.
Political and military interference has been cited as major hindrances to the operations of weigh bridges around the country.

Influential figures in the political space as well as army officers are said to have often sabotaged the work of weigh bridges operators.

Constant system and machine breakdown was also pointed out as a challenge to the effectiveness of these weighbridges.

Appearing as witness before the recently constituted Uganda National Roads Authority [UNRA] Commission of Inquiry Thursday afternoon, shop Kalule Sharif a scale attendant at Mubende Weigh Bridge recommended that these challenges be dealt with.

“We also face a challenge of corruption in the justice system. There’s a lot that happens through the police and court process which may later see impounded trucks go unsanctioned. Yet the public blames us who operate weigh bridges for all this” said Kalule

Other issues raised by Kasule in his testimony included, delays caused by court procedures, impersonators who hoodwink drivers and absence of enclosures at weigh bridges.

Kasule was in the past issued a warning letter following a report that he had released 2 trucks with overload while he was a scale attendant at the Mbale weigh bridge. He however told the commission he disapproves the claims. From Mbale, he was transferred to Lukaya, Busitema and then Mubende where he currently works.

The witness further stated that trucks dodge the Mubende weigh bridge using alternative routes.

Asked by the Chairperson to the inquiry Catherine Bamugemereire for his recommendations, Kasule said a mobile patrol unit is required to intercept these trucks. He also asked that human resources be trained beyond weigh bridge operations.

The hearing was adjourned to Tuesday 21st July at 9:30 am.

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