While security forces exist to defend the state and protect citizens, they can and have helped in addressing political challenges either by joining the people when there is a conflict between them and the government or by staying neutral. Governments come and go. States and people are permanent and security forces are created to defend and protect them.
There are many illustrations of security forces joining the people to stop or remove governments when they oppress the people. In 1789 the soldiers in Paris joined the people when king Louis XVI tried to suppress demonstrations that supported the National Assembly. Other soldiers outside Paris also refused to rally behind the king. His efforts to use mercenaries did not succeed. In this way, security forces prevented the king from dispersing the National Assembly that had gathered to draw up a new constitution for France.
In Ethiopia when there was a conflict in 1974 between the imperial government and demonstrators who were demanding improvements in their welfare including adequate food, the security forces stepped in on the side of the people. The emperor and his government that were not prepared to make necessary changes were swept away.
In Iran a conflict in 1979 between the people and the government over demands for changes in economic, social and other spheres (and the government’s resistance) resulted in the security forces joining the people and the Shah and his government was removed from the scene.
In 1989, the Romanian government had failed to recognize that there was a wind of change against communist regimes. Unlike other communist governments in Eastern Europe that accepted the reality and allowed peaceful changes, the leader of Romania used excessive force to disperse peaceful demonstrators. Ultimately his security forces turned against him, arrested and executed him after a brief trial. The security forces realized correctly that the people were the sovereign.
Security forces in Egypt and Tunisia have demonstrated how protecting the people can save lives and avoid bloodshed as we are witnessing in Libya where a section of security forces and mercenaries has decided to stick with a leader who has lost legitimacy. The latest development in Yemen shows clearly how professional soldiers can decide to save the situation by deserting the Commander-in-Chief.
The situation in Uganda is drifting towards a real confrontation between the people and authorities that refuse to recognize that there is a wind of political change. The authorities still think Ugandans are passive and will take whatever is said about or done to them. Those days are over!
We appeal to Uganda security forces led by Kale Kayihura and Aronda Nyakairima to be on the side of the people who are trying to make life better for everyone. We all want to live together in peace and security. In short the people of Uganda want security from want, from fear and to live in dignity. Why would the security forces of Uganda not be on the side of Ugandans when the government rejects their demands for human security?