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Last Updated: Friday, 20 July 2007, 08:56 GMT 09:56 UK
Military service for all Ugandans
President Yoweri Museveni in military uniform
President Yoweri Museveni left the army in 2004
Military training is to be made compulsory for all Ugandans, the ruling party has announced.

Anyone who failed to undertake the training would be punished, said National Resistance Movement Secretary General Amama Mbabazi.

The decision was adopted at a five-day party retreat, where leaders participated in military drills and learnt to handle AK-47 rifles.

The NRM seized power in 1986 and won multi-party elections last year.

President Yoweri Museveni only retired from the army in 2004, to meet a legal requirement which bars serving soldiers from being active members of a political party.

'Gimmick'

Voluntary military service for 18-year-olds, known as "mchaka mchaka", was introduced after Mr Museveni came to power in 1986.

What under the heavens can be the motive/strategic purpose of compulsory training in Uganda or any African country right now?
Olalekan Adetifa

But the system fizzled out in the early 1990s after parents stopped sending their children to military training camps where they were also taught political ideology.

The NRM has been talking about re-introducing it for several years.

"We leaders have had basic training and we shall go back. This is the beginning and we have led the way," Mr Mbabazi told reporters in Kampala.

The NRM secretary general said the military training school would open branches across the country to reach more Ugandans.

Opposition parties have condemned the move, according to local media reports.

Democratic Party Leader John Ssebaana said it was useless.

"This is a gimmick for the party to siphon money from the treasury," he told the Daily Monitor newspaper.

The Forum for Democratic Change, led by President Yoweri Museveni's arch rival, Dr Kizza Besigye, said it would wait to debate merits of the proposal in parliament.

"I think they have brought this now to divert attention from their wrongful act of dressing MPs in military uniform," said FDC spokesman Wafula Oguttu.

Eritrea is the only African country to have compulsory national military service.




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