Brig. Gen. Paul Lokech, the Ugandan People’s Defence Force (UPDF) contingent commander in Somalia Wednesday stood between a divided House and political sobriety in Mogadishu making a passionate appeal to lawmakers to put the interest of the country first.
The 2nd Division commander returned to Somalia last year to head his country’s contingent after bravely liberating Mogadishu from Al-Shabaab in 2011. Read below the abridged version of his address to MPs today:
When the tension between the Legislature and Executive started, I had to pull back from the front-line to handle the issue here. My fellow brothers and sisters, we have paid lot to come where we are. But before we put our interests first, we must put the interests of Somalia first.
We have come to an agreement that Parliament through the Speaker be suspended for a period of time. We as Amisom we shall take security of parliament until a time when the atmosphere is good for all of you to sit in your House and deliberate on the motions that you have.
I gave three option to the Professor. One is for them to accept with the Executive that with we take charge of the whole of parliament so that we deliberate in a free atmosphere. The second option is if they fail we look for a neutral ground. The third option which is the worst case scenario was for me to pull out and leave you to sort out your problems. And I know the third option I will have done a disservice to my people.
So I go with the first two options. In this time that as we prepare for the security of parliament, we encourage dialogue between the executive and legislature. I appeal to honourable members of Parliament to discuss freely so that you come to a common ground. This country is enough for all of you, nobody will be closed outside the door. We need to accept one another.
I will also take the same message that I got from the honorable Speaker to the Executive to tell them we have called off so that dialogue continues until we secure parliament and the time which the speaker will instruct the Chief whip to call Parliament that people can sit in an atmosphere where there is no intimidation.
To my people who are in combat, my message to them, they must accept to be the people’s force. You cannot be in uniform if you cannot respect the population. So if we out population first then we are on the right course. As you are going through your deliberations, I would appeal to you members of parliament to understand the fragility of your state so that we can agree with one another. I wish you good luck.