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Museveni Sends Envoys to Talk with Ousted Government’s Soldiers

February 10, 1986

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) _ President Yoweri Museveni said Sunday he has sent emissaries to northern Uganda to try to persuade soldiers of the ousted military regime to give up their fight against his new government.

Museveni, who spoke with reporters following the swearing-in of 15 new Cabinet members, said Felix Onama and Wilson Lutata, both northern-born Ugandans and former Cabinet members, would try to enter the north from Sudan, Uganda’s northern neighbor.

He also said members of his National Resistance Army were still battling for control of the northern zone.

Museveni returned to the capital Sunday after spending two days in the north inspecting his troops fighting the forces loyal to Gen. Tito Okello.

Okello’s 6-month-old government fell Jan. 25 when Museveni’s rebels seized Kampala, the capital.

The new Cabinet members were to have been sworn in Saturday, but the ceremony was postponed because Museveni was in the field with his troops.

Among the 15 Cabinet members sworn in was Paul Ssemogerere as minister of internal affairs, a job he held in the Okello government.

Ssemogerere is chairman of the Democratic Party, which was the chief opposition party during the civilian rule of President Milton Obote.

Obote was ousted last July 27 in a military coup and Okello succeeded him as head of state.

There have been reports that Okello fled to southern Sudan after Kampala fell. But his army commander, Lt. Gen. Basilio Okello, no relation, has regrouped 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers abouit 120 miles north of Kampala.

It is the only area of the country not controlled by the National Resistance Army.

Museveni told reporters Sunday, ″The fighting is going very smoothly. We have realized most of our main military objectives. What the Okellos are doing has no purpose.″

Before the fall of Kampala, Okello’s army had about 20,000 men, nearly twice the size of the National Resistance Army.

Museveni said some 9,000 soldiers of the ousted government have surrendered and are ″now on our side.″ He said those soldiers were being retrained and put into new units, but he did not say how long that would take or whether they would be sent to fight their former comrades in the north.

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