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Why did the President ignore Kyagulanyi in his address to the nation?

(Last Updated On: 9 September 2023)

By Oweyegha-Afunaduula

I thought President Tibuhaburwa Museveni would, in his address to the nation on 6th September 2023, touch on the phenomenon of Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, which seems to be a threat to his political security. 

The President did not consider it important to evoke Kyagulanyi, yet in the past, he has been restricted in his movements for security reasons. The question, “How come police and army are, all of a sudden, not reigning violence on Kyagulanyi and the multitudes of people we have not seen since independence in 1962, yet smaller groups of people, seeking political participation, have been met with maximum army and police violence almost since 1996?” – confronted the President prior to his address to the nation.

He left it to persist as Kyagulanyi continued his countrywide “meet the people tours”. He has been to Western, and Eastern Uganda and is now in Northern Uganda. He is remaining with the Central region. Multitudes of people, no violence!

There is silence, which speaks. President Museveni’s choice of conspiracy of silence on the phenomenon of Kyagulanyi seems to be speaking. Might there be a consensus between Kyagulanyi and President Tibuhaburwa Museveni, however including that Kyagulanyi speaks anything against the government, NRM and the President, but the President does not unleash violence on Kyagulanyi and his multitudes of people?

Is the classroom that there will be no ADF violence in Kampala one strategy to prepare the population for Kyagulanyi long before he sets foot in the Central region? Why this newfound love between Museveni and Kyagulanyi that has all over suddenly assigned army and police violence to the past?

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In fact, a retired civil servant, when I asked him to say something about the President’s silence on Kyagulanyi in his address to the Nation, told me: “A friend from Berlin has just sent a message to the effect that the two are ‘almost certainly together’.”

If the President had touched on Kyagulanyi in his address, he would probably dispel such thinking, which is gaining currency domestically and internationally. He would also render the many questions being asked irrelevant.  The President would, definitely, also have explained to the nation and the world why suddenly the army and police have chosen to be completely nonviolent, in the face of the current phenomenal political influence in Uganda, which no other politician has since the transition of the country from Commonwealth Realm of Uganda to Uganda in 1963, has depicted.

One thing, which has emerged since Kyagulanyi started his countrywide tours well-secured by the army, police and other security agencies, and undisturbed by the often politically oversensitive Resident District Commissioners (RDCs), is that all the violence we have witnessed and suffered since 1996 has been of military and police origin and okayed by power. Apart from the frequently evoked ADF threats to security, Uganda would have been completely peaceful and less reliant on guns to secure it if the army and police were not violent. Peace would originate in the heads of people.

We now know if power wanted the gun and tear gas would not be at the centre of our sociopolitical process. When I asked a Ugandan friend in the USA what National Resistance Movement was still resisting, he told me: “They are resisting national-democratic liberation of and in Uganda, and the gun is central to such resistance.”

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The gun is an instrument of state-inspired violence. But now Kyagulanyi, during his countrywide political tours, ostensibly to open party branches, is preaching a new liberation: people’s liberation, in contrast to the one by Front for National Salvation (FRONASA), Patriotic Resistance Army (PRA) and National Resistance Movement (NRM), which had exogenous linkages and had Rwandese refugees at their centre.

Will it evolve into a truly National Democratic Liberation? Will the National Resistance Movement still be relevant in the new body politic of Uganda? Wouldn’t the Movement belong to the dustbin of history, supplanted by a true people’s liberation from within not from without?

When I put these questions to one NRM ideologue who spends considerable time and mental energy in the corridors of power, this is what he told me: “How could Bobi Wine be allowed to go mobilizing for support in Mbarara, Kasese, Fort Portal, Busoga, Busia, Mbale and Lango without the army and police interfering unless President Tibuhaburwa Museveni has constrained them via an order from above?”

The point really is that these campaigns have no eventual meaning.  It is becoming clearer by the day what Mao’s assignment is. Museveni is largely a spent force but he needs to retain power in his family by handing it over to his son. The members of Parliament who will elect the president are few and are easy to bribe, using Uganda’s money, as usual.

The question is: can the opposition gain more than 50% of the House to fight such a scheme? The writing is clearly on the wall. Methinks Bobi Wine is President Museveni’s Project just as Project Muhoozi is.

How the President plays with the two projects so that he retains power and easily hands it over to his son, time will tell. Movement is still around for a long time unless Ugandans wake up and say “No more political domination by people of exogenous roots.”

Afunaduula is a retired Makerere University lecturer and current political commentator. 

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