In a change of tune, President Museveni has blamed the violence that occurred in the run-up to the January polls on some elements with government security forces.
Museveni had earlier blamed the opposition for triggering the violence.
However, presiding over Heroes Day celebrations at Kololo independence grounds on Wednesday, Museveni acknowledged that government security forces “overreacted” in some of their operations.
“The opposition made mistakes by being violent, intimidation, attacks and because of poor leadership in some of our groups, you find soldiers are not well briefed, they just go into some situations without proper briefing,” Museveni said.
“But the law is very clear. We have put it in the law, the procedures are very clear, the standing orders are very clear how to handle the different types of trouble makers. If they are peaceful but lawbreakers in an illegal demonstration, there is how to handle it. There, you use non-lethal methods which are there; tear gas, water cannon. Those are there, they don’t kill, they discourage and somebody goes away.”
One of the most violent scenes of the campaigns came on November 18 and 19, 2020, when, according to the official government count, 54 people were shot and killed during a crackdown on rioters on the streets of Kampala and other urban centres.
The riots were sparked off by the arrest of National Unity Platform president and Museveni challenger Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu alias Bobi Wine.
Commenting on this incident, Museveni said that government was wrongly accused and condoned violence by security.
“When something like that happens (killings), we follow up case by case and I have the files of all the 54 people who died [due to the riots of] 18th November. Where the forces made mistakes, we discovered it,” Museveni said.
“The first thing I did was to hold seminars; you must have seen how I met all the commanders of special forces and all the police commanders in the whole country to review their actions and mistakes. We also tried to follow up (with) the families of the affected people.”
The president scoffed at those who think they can use force to overthrow his government, saying they will be taught a tough lesson.