New ruler sets up housekeeping amid ongoing chaos in Uganda. Regional violence sparks fears of north-south split
Kampala, Uganda — Uganda's new President, Yoweri Museveni, has set up housekeeping in Kampala, but chaos prevails in the surrounding countryside. Mr. Museveni, the former rebel leader who seized power Jan. 26, swore in his Cabinet and a 22-member legislature Saturday. He had promised a broad-based, democratic government, but both the Cabinet and the National Resistance Council, which will function as a legislative body, are dominated by members of his guerrilla organization from southern Uganda, the National Resistance Army.
The disorder outside the capital and in a number of regions creates some concern that there will be military resistance ending in a north-south division of Uganda, according to analysts here. There is also widespread concern that the violence will delay aid from Western countries which is desperately needed by Uganda's ailing economy.
The forces of the new government have been regarded by many here as saviors since they toppled the six-month military regime of Lt. Gen. Tito Okello. Angered by decades of brutal oppression under a succession of military rulers going back to former dictator Idi Amin, Ugandans reportedly have been forming vigilante groups to ``bring to justice'' the retreating Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA), which has been blamed here for the wanton killing of at least 250,000 people.
According to eyewitness accounts from residents to the east of the capital, vengeful UNLA soldiers were looting shops and killing civilians as they scattered towards their homes in the north. At Jinja, near the Kenya border, an officer of the British military training team flouted protocol by trying unsuccessfully to restrain 10,000 rampaging soldiers, many of them former Amin supporters.
Villagers spoke of exhausted and hungry soldiers who had walked 70 miles to escape Museveni's conquering troops, thrown their guns into the bushes, or traded them for bunches of bananas. When their trucks ran out of fuel, they set them on fire and continued on foot.
Locals have burned bridges and derailed a train to prevent the UNLA retreat. Analysts say that the result could be pockets of stranded troops resorting to armed resistance out of desperation. Analysts also fear that UNLA leader Lt. Gen. Basilio Olaro Okello (no relation to Tito Okello) and the former defense minister, Col. Wilson Toko, may rally their men for a protracted military undermining of the Museveni government.
Both men are from the Nilotic peoples of the north, as is most of the UNLA. The forces of the just-formed government draw their following mostly from the Bantu southerners.
Because Museveni's troops have not yet taken control of the north, some experts fear there will be a north-south division.