President Museveni has reiterated calls for joint security mechanisms and strengthened economic blocs to protect Uganda and Africa in general from neo-colonialists.
Speaking at Tarehe Sita celebrations in Butaleja District on Tuesday, Museveni said the African continent was colonised because it was not united.
“It is therefore important that we work to unite the continent in all aspects,” said Museveni.
“In Rwanda last year, African leaders passed a resolution to create a Continental Free Trade Area and that is the way to go.”
Museveni fears Africa’s fragmented markets and weak militaries compared to advanced countries could facilitate a new era of colonialism on the continent.
“I also salute the East African Community for finding it fitting to work together as a regional force to defend and protect the region,” said Museveni.
“This is the only way we can guarantee the region’s strategic security and safety, independence and sovereignty.”
The UPDF 37th Tarehe Sita Anniversary and the 1st EAC Armed Forces Day were held under the theme: “Reaffirming the Contribution of the Armed Forces towards Regional Integration for our Strategic Security, Development and Prosperity”.
For the first time, the UPDF was joined during the week-long activities by the East African Community partner state Armed Forces from the fraternal countries of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan and Tanzania.
Defence spokesperson, Brig Richard Karemire said this “collaboration resonates with the decision of the EAC Defence Council to link military cooperation with the wanainchi as we integrate.”
Civil military activities have since been conducted by the medical and engineering contingents of all the forces in all the districts of Butaleja, Pallisa, Budaka, Kibuku, Tororo and Busia.
Museveni praised the people of Butaleja and the wider Bukedi for supporting and voting massively for the National Resistance Movement.
“This has energized the struggle and makes each of you a freedom fighter,” said Museveni.
Today’s event marked the historic attack on Kabamba barracks by NRA rebels.
Museveni said the attack was not the first attempt to liberate Uganda.
“We had tried in the 1970s with the help of Julius Nyerere and Samora Machel,” said Museveni, adding, “This strong force (UPDF) would not be in place if we did not have their support.”
Museveni said Ugandans should never forget the solidarity of Tanzanians and Mozambicans.
“Uganda is greatly indebted to Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and FRELIMO leader Samora Machel for their support to our liberation struggle right from the 70s,” said the President whose rebel outfit received support from the two leaders to take power in 1986.
“This logistical support, training and ideological grounding is what laid a firm foundation for the development of the UPDF,” he assured.