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Military Government Reports Looting and Violence

July 31, 1985

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) _ The new military government today reported rampant looting and violence by both soldiers and civilians in southeast Uganda, and demanded that it stop immediately.

Tito Okello, the military ruler installed after Saturday’s coup that toppled President Milton Obote, flew Tuesday to neighboring Tanzania for talks with President Julius Nyerere, Tanzania’s official Shihata news agency said. There were no reports on the substance of the talks.

Nyerere is a longtime friend of Obote, who fled to Kenya after the putsch carried out by rebel army units. Obote lived in exile in Tanzania after Idi Amin ousted him in 1971.

In 1979 a joint force of Tanzanians and Ugandan rebels deposed Amin, and Obote was re-elected president of this East African nation a year later.

A statement issued today by the ruling military council and broadcast on Radio Uganda said ″all acts of murder and looting must stop at once, especially as reported rampant in the southeastern region.″

The Radio Uganda broadcast said the military council ″noted with great concern the senseless and ruthless looting by both civilians and men in uniform.″

It ordered that all cars stolen by soldiers or civilians during the takeover be surrendered at the central police station.

There was extensive looting, much of it by soldiers, in Kampala immediately after the coup. By Monday the capital was calm, but virtually every shop in the center of the city was damaged.

Banks, government offices and most shops remained closed today.

Brig. Basilio Olra Okello, a leader of the coup and member of the military council, met Tuesday with the permanent secretaries of government ministries.

All of Obote’s ministers were dismissed after the coup, but they are continuing to run the departments until a new Cabinet is formed. Radio Uganda said today that Basilio Olra Okello, no relation to Tito Okello, told the secretaries to ensure that tribal or religious considerations play no role in their operations.

There were unconfirmed reports of a clash late Tuesday 30 miles east of Kampala between soldiers loyal to the new government and guerrillas of the National Resistance Army, which had been fighting Obote’s government since 1981.

The guerrillas initially welcomed the coup, but subsequently complained of lack of contact with the new rulers. They have indicated they are undecided about whether to cooperate with the new government.

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