ISINGIRO – Opposition strongman Kizza Besigye used the burial of Maj Gen (Rtd) Benon Biraro at the weekend to condemn what he described as greed and lack of patriotism among most senior government officials and army officers.
Speaking at weekend in Masha, Isingiro District, at the burial of Gen Biraro, who succumbed to colon cancer last Wednesday, Dr Besigye said most of the current crop of leaders can never match the level of patriotism that the deceased had for the country.
The deceased held different positions during his 32-year military career. During the five-year Bush War, he served as the secretary of NRA high command chaired by President Museveni.
“Benon and I were friends and comrades. We were united by our desire to fight Injustice. We both loved to see justice in our country. Those of you who claim to love NRM today more than us who shed blood to bring into power, you are liars,” Dr Besigye said.
At the function were senior army officers, including the Deputy Chief of Defence Forces, Gen Wilson Mbadi; Gen Joram Mugume, the chairman of the board of directors of the National Enterprise Corporation, the business arm of the UPDF; Gen Ivan Koreta and former Health minister Jim Muhwezi.
Several senior army officers were seen standing to greet Dr Besigye.
“NRM was us. We campaigned for it when you didn’t like it; we supported and loved Gen. Museveni when you didn’t and we invested our time and personal resources to campaign for him because we had aspirations,” Dr Besigye added.
“Peace and justice are two sides of the same coin. One cannot function without the other. I am here to send off Gen. Biraro because, as a friend and colleague, we have passed through many difficult situations pursuing peace and justice for Ugandans in Uganda. You have faded before we could achieve it. But the struggle will go until we liberate our country. Gen. Biraro has gone as a friend and I salute you. Go well, sleep well, sleep in Peace Gen,” he said.
Biraro also once vied for Presidency under his political platform, Farmers Party of Uganda.
Speaker after speaker paid glowing tribute to Biraro whose humility and kindness they said was immense.
President Museveni, in a condolence message read by Minister of Security Gen Elly Tumwine, described Biraaro as patriotic, fair and hardworking before urging the young generation to emulate him.
“Biraaro was one of the patriotic leaders Uganda has ever had…He will forever be remembered as a fiercely principled man whose words matched his actions. He was incorruptible, balanced and fair person throughout his lifetime,” Mr Museveni said.
The widow, Joy Biraaro, wondered why the UPDF kicked the family out of the house when Gen. Biraaro was retired in 2015. She added that the family was stripped of other privileges including security/escorts. Ms Biraaro, however, hailed the President’s Office for the financial support they extended to Gen Biraaro when he went for treatment in India.
“When he went into opposition (politics) some army officers ran away from him but others remained (around him) and they individually helped us when we were seeking treatment in India,” Ms Biraaro said.