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At the close of nationwide consultations on the future of their party, former president of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change, Gregory Mugisha Muntu has said that FDC could find itself being replaced by the ‘People Power Movement’.

“Nature does not allow a vacuum,” he said, referring to the movement whose most prominent face is new kid on the political block, Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine), the MP for Kyadondo East.

“What we have to ask ourselves is whether there is some form of vacuum that requires the emergence of a new force or not…,” he told The Observer.

Muntu said  for that force to emerge, survive and grow, it is dependent on the “prevailing objective conditions, not just leadership”.

 

“Leadership takes opportunity of the prevailing conditions. So, the question I keep asking is; when we were starting, were there no political parties? Of course, they were there.

“So, what explains why FDC came about and grew? Are there any such conditions now? If there are, more so for us in FDC, if there is that space, why are we not expanding that space?

“Perhaps, there is something that we are not doing right. We should be asking ourselves what it is and do we have the will and capacity to deal with it?”

Muntu warned that if FDC does not answer these questions, then it will inevitably be swallowed up by the sweeping Bobi Wine movement.

 

For months, Muntu and allies, mostly members of parliament, have been speaking to FDC members around Uganda about a ‘third way’ after being frozen out by radical forces inside the party.

Prof Sabiti Makara, a lecturer of political science, yesterday said Uganda’s largest opposition party has to pay attention to what Muntu is raising.

“FDC should resolve its contradictions and Muntu should be brought on board; it is only then that both factions can enter into a meaningful coalition with the People Power movement. You see that movement does not have clear leadership or structures and FDC is organised, it can be a lead player in case they choose to enter into a coalition with any political formation today. It has leaders who can provide face and most of these are in Muntu’s faction,” he said.

Currently, more than three quarters of FDC representation in parliament is behind Muntu. Current party president Patrick Oboi Amuriat declined an interview to respond to this assertion. “I don’t want to speculate on Muntu’s things,” he said.

While they (Muntu group) plan to make a clean break in 2020, a year to elections, so as to avoid falling foul of the law, which would otherwise see them lose their seats for changing political allegiances midstream, their local networks are already allied to the People Power movement.

This became clear during a consultative meeting with Muntu in Iganga last month. Bamu Lulenzi, an FDC-leaning independent councillor in Iganga municipality council, said: “Me I have already embraced People Power and I am the coordinator for the group in the greater Iganga district”.

“Whatever decision you make, you should know that me and some of the people in our structures have moved on,” he said.

 

Hassan Muyinda, FDC chair in Iganga municipality, said it is high time the party learnt from Kenyan politics.

“The Kenyans have learnt the politics of alliances. Since we can’t strengthen our organisations to wrestle the ruling party out of power, it is high time we entered into formidable alliances that reflect the political reality,” he said. 

Muntu, the eternal bridge-maker, however, is still holding out hope.

“Listen to us and the voices out there; and resolve internal concerns before it is too late,” he said.

But this week, party president Patrick Oboi Amuriat insisted that there is nothing to resolve.

“As an individual holding the office, I will receive the report, but this should be made clear from the word go. We never commissioned that report and from the inception of the consultation, we did not commission it. We never gave benchmarks and we could not be in a position to evaluate its outcome,” he told The Observer last week.

In January, Muntu and like-minded colleagues set out on countrywide consultations about their continued membership of FDC, a party they think has stumbled away from its core democratic ideals.

The ‘consultations’ got underway after Muntu lost the party presidency race in November 2017 to Amuriat, who rode in on the coattails of FDC’s founding president, Col (rtd) Dr Kizza Besigye.

Besigye leads the so-called ‘defiance faction’ which his critics say he has imposed on FDC as the single ideological orientation.

 

As such, three questions were posed to FDC audiences upcountry: How would Maj Gen (rtd) Muntu still be part of FDC when his lot were slandered as moles and non-Ugandans? How is the party going to reconcile the defiance strategy with democracy? And, what is the position of the FDC founding president, Besigye, in the party?

Some feel that if not properly addressed, Besigye’s domineering influence can give birth to a dictatorship in the opposition. Former FDC deputy president Prof Morris Ogenga-Latigo said the consultations were not merely soul-searching, but a look at FDC’s internal practices to establish whether they are in accord with the ideals that defined its formation.

“Over the years, our internal practice has been moving away from tolerance of contrary views towards slandering and faction formation against those who disagree with some positions intended to benefit an individual,” Latigo said.

Midway the consultations, The Observer commissioned a three-month-long investigation into the allegations that were being made by Muntu and his colleagues.

A four-part series later published chronicled how FDC, at its very inception, was side-tracked from its aspirations in the manner in which its first leadership assumed office.

It showed how they unwittingly created a cult of personality around Besigye; and how this cult following gave birth to Besigye’s dominance over FDC.

What Muntu found

After eight months, Muntu says there are now three prevalent views.

“One that says ‘guys let’s do everything humanly possible to solve our internal disagreements. If we separate it will weaken the party and the opposition,” he said.

“While there is a second voice saying that we should stay within the party even if the differences are not resolved; we should fight from within.

“The third is saying that the way we are, there is no way we are going to solve these contradictions. We are wasting each other’s time. In fact, we are in a state of paralysis. So, they are saying let’s just find ways of separating in a mature way and then work together in separate vehicles around the common objective of regime change and building firm foundations for better governance.”

Muntu said these views ran throughout the 90 percent of the areas they visited.

Muntu said that given “the nature of these views, you cannot just go by numbers; you have to be rational and scientific. You have to do analysis of the situation and also get to understand why people think the way they think because after the consultation meetings, you would engage the leaders and there are many people who are more worried about the unknown; they don’t know what will happen. And that is part of humanity; majority of the people who walk this planet find themselves in a state of paralysis because of the fear of the unknown.”

The emergence of the “People Power Movement” along the way has forced more people to be reflective. Around March this year, Amuriat’s leadership had planned to purge the Muntu group from leadership positions on oversight committees in parliament.

However, when senior FDC leaders opened up in The Observer series, Besigye convened a meeting with Muntu, urging him to prevail on his colleagues.

The Observer understands that whereas this meeting was inconclusive, Amuriat was still persuaded to hold back the purge. But a few months later, after the FDC lost the Bugiri municipality by-election to Justice Forum president, Asuman Basalirwa, he blamed it all on the Muntu team.

Accordingly, prominent members of the Muntu team were fired from parliament leadership positions. They included; Kasese Woman MP Winfred Kiiza who was dropped as leader of opposition.

This annoyed the Muntu group who rallied behind their colleague Eziati Kassiano Wadri to defeat another FDC candidate, Bruce Musema, who emerged fourth during last month’s Arua municipality by-election.

Party sources say some people wanted to trigger article 13 of the FDC constitution to expel Muntu’s group for engaging in activities that were hostile to the party.

But Muntu remarks that it would be naïve for the party to shy away from the truth. A truth whose reality is that people power was demonstrated in the successes in Bugiri and Arua municipalities – by-elections in which Muntu and allies stood with the Kyadondo East MP against FDC candidates.

skakaire@observer.ug

1 day 15 hours ago
Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi has said that he will not relent on his quest for freedom and justice for all in Uganda. 

Kyagulanyi was speaking from his home in Magere, three hours after his arrival from the United States of America where he's been seeking further treatment.

 
On arrival at Entebbe Airport, Kyagulanyi was roughed up by police officers who drove him straight to his home in Magere, Kasangati. Several of his supporters who had thronged Entebbe road were either beaten or arrested by security. 
 
"From the plane they searched me, they took away my passport and all the documents and I don’t know where they're but am glad to be here [in Uganda]. I didn’t know where they were taking me, they just grabbed me." he said. 
 
"I have come to continue exactly where I stopped, I’m going to fight on and like I said, we must get our freedom or we shall die trying to fight for freedom. It looks like the government is determined to keep us slaves in our own country. I cannot ask for asylum anywhere else. I can’t be a refugee, no. I’m a Ugandan and I will stay in Uganda and I will fight for that freedom. And if I don’t get that freedom, at least my children or their children will get it."
 
Kyagulani has been in the US for the last 19 days seeking treatment after being allegedly tortured by the presidential guards, Special Forces Command (SFC) following his arrest on August 14. He was arrested alongside 32 others on suspicion that they had stoned President Yoweri Museveni's vehicle. The suspects have been charged with treason and are out on bail.  
 
Probably to confuse the journalists and the waiting supporters, two separate police convoys set off from Entebbe - driving at breakneck speed.
 
The convoy with Bobi Wine drove straight Magere while the other drove to Kasangati police station. For a while several journalists and supporters were fooled into thinking that he was being held at the police station.
 
Indeed, crowds started swelling outside Kasangati police station - chanting pro-Bobi Wine slogans before they were dispersed by the presidential guards. 

Asked about the status of his health, Kyagulanyi said he is still experiencing some pain in some parts of his body despite the treatment he underwent while abroad, but overall, he said he was feeling fine. 

1 day 16 hours ago

The state has dropped Aggrey Kiyingi, a Ugandan-Australian based doctor, from the terrorism trial of former rebel leader Jamil Mukulu and more than 30 others.

In the amended indictment consented to by John Baptist Asiimwe, a senior assistant director of public prosecutions, and presented to court on August 23, the accused are jointly charged with 20 counts of terrorism, murder, aggravated robbery, attempted murder and membership to the Allied Democratic Forces, a terrorist organisation, and the Salaf Islamic sect.

 

The offences are alleged to have been committed in the districts of Mayuge, Namayingo, Bugiri, Iganga, Jinja, Mbale, Budaka, Wakiso, Tororo, Mukono and Kampala between 2012 and 2015.

The DPP intends to adduce evidence to prove that there were conflicts among Muslim sects, most remarkably among the Salaf members themselves, on the mode of worship. These conflicts manifested in several attacks on individuals opposed to the ideology of the Salaf, resulting into deaths.

The attacks are alleged to have started with the murder of Sheikh Yunus Abubakeri Madangu on August 18, 2012 at Bwola zone in Bugiri district. The point of contention was the direction (kiblah) to face during worship.

The deceased favoured the Salaf view of facing north during prayers while all the accused were in favour of facing south. The deceased and others who opposed the change chased those who were in favour from the mosque, who included Rashid Kalenge (A24), Yusuf Abdu Musobya, Sheikh Swalahudin Baligeya and others.

 

On August 18, immediately after prayers, Nabangi (A3) and Sheikh Kawule (A25) allegedly murdered the deceased. 

“Evidence will be adduced to show that Abdullah (A2) was overall commander of all the operations in Busoga region; while Wasigu was the spiritual leader of the gang and had greatly influenced and directed their operations in which they resolved to acquire guns by robbing the police, army, local guards and any available source”, the indictment partly says.

The group allegedly recruited a soldier, Sgt John Woori (A7) alias Tango, who used to hire the AK47 rifle No56-131006417 (09505) from his police relative Cpl Martin Alex Engwau, a night guard at the IGG’s office in Tororo.

Other alleged crimes include Sheikh Muwaya’s murder. Evidence will be presented to show that in December 2014, Wesiku organised a meeting attended by Kabambwe, Abdul Swabul Kimbugwe alias Musamoza (A16), Adam Siraje and Yahaya and they resolved to murder Sheikh Ductoor Kadir Muwaya, a prominent Shia Muslim sect leader.

On the fateful night, Siraji allegedly followed the deceased from the mosque after evening prayers. Muwaya was allegedly shot by Musomoza. Kitambwe allegedly rode the getaway motorcycle carrying Afani Muhammad Mbuya ((A17).

Others murdered include; Tito Okware, the LC-III chairman Buyinja in February 2012. On February 15, 2015 in Namayingo, two police officers; Muzamiru Babale and Karim Tenywa who were guarding Justice Faith Mwondha’s village home were waylaid by Kabambwe and shot dead.

Their guns were later recovered from one of the houses under construction at Umar Muk’atar Islamic Centre owned by Wanjala.

On the night of July 8, 2014 Kabambwe, transported by Mosomoze on a motorcycle, allegedly shot dead John Stephen Owor, who was guarding Mayuge Farmers Association store and stole his gun.

 

On the night of April 23, 2014 Kimbugwe allegedly transported Kabambwe who allegedly shot down Cpl Julius Owor.

In the night of May 7, 2014, Kabambwe was transported on a motorcycle by Kimbugwe and allegedly shot dead Sgt Butala who was guarding Electoral Commission offices at Namayingo. On July 3, 2014 Stephen Macho, a businessman at Matere trading centre, Bugiri district was allegedly waylaid and killed by Kabambwe and Moze.

On September 16, 2012, Abdu Jawadu Sentuga, a businessman at Namayemba in Bugiri, was shot dead.

Robbery

On the night of December 12, 2014 Kabambwe allegedly shot dead security guard Joseph Abura and fled with his gun and 10 rounds of ammunition.

On the night of September 26, 2013 at Budde village in Bigiri district, Muku, Kabambwe, Sgt Tanga Owor (A7) and Abdu Malik (A10) attacked Jawadi Lusala alias Okudum at his residence. They allegedly forced Lusala to surrender Shs 2m, 11 grams of gold valued then at Shs 1m, two mobile phones, and a digital gold weighing scale.

On the night of July 12, 2013, three armed men dressed in army uniforms trailed Mwamadi Magolo, a businessman at Nambuku trading centre, in his Isuzu truck Reg. No. UAK 933X and as he was calling his wife Hajira Nanfuka to open for him, they allegedly kicked him before robbing his Shs 6m and three mobile phones.

Terrorism

Prosecution says it will adduce evidence to show that the alleged murders and robberies were part of a systematic plan agreed upon by the gang and approved by Mukulu to weaken the government and instill fear in the population.

Mukulu was arrested in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania towards the end of April, 2015 with Muhammad Matovu (A26) and Omar Abdullah Mutuka (A27) and extradited to Uganda before he was first charged in Jinja.

lubwamasiraje@gmail.com

1 day 16 hours ago

Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu has told a US audience that peaceful change of power with or without him is inevitable in Uganda.

Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine has for the last two weeks been in the USA undergoing specialised medical care following his arrest and beating by soldiers ahead of the Arua municipality by-election last month.

 

While answering questions from Ronnie Mayanja, a US-based Ugandan journalist, during a meeting with other Ugandans at Embassy Suites, Waltham on Sunday, Bobi Wine also denied being sponsored by foreigners.

“The People Power political wind supported by majority of Ugandans is not a Bobi Wine project. I only happen to be one of the oppressed,” he said.

“Provided that we are united, with or without me, peaceful change is inevitable in our country. We cannot go for guns, because we know the problems the people who used them have caused.”

He said though he is afraid of the reception he might receive from the Kampala authorities when he returns, he is ready for anything because “Uganda is my motherland”.

 

“Of course I’m worried, but Uganda is my home; that’s where my family is. That’s where all my people are. I’m worried but 44 million Ugandans are also worried,” he said.

However, a government spokesperson, while responding to Bobi Wine’s remarks, told journalists on Monday that the government has no problem with his coming back.

Bobi Wine has addressed press conferences broadcast on international outlets BBC, Al Jazeera and CNN. He was hosted on Voice of America’s Straight Talk Africa programme last week and also attended a panel discussion at George Washington University on Monday.

On September 11, police and army officers stormed the venue of a meeting in Kamwokya, Kampala intended to organise welcome ceremonies upon the return of Bobi Wine. They confiscated materials and arrested one of the organisers.

Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyire said the meeting was illegal. International media have recently reported that Bobi Wine’s lawyer, Robert Amsterdam, is courting US leader Donald Trump’s government to cut off its funding to Uganda, particularly to its defence budget.

He reportedly told a press conference in Washington DC, that the Trump administration could no longer afford to facilitate the unending brutality being meted out on Ugandans by their leaders.

For decades, US government has been training Uganda’s military and providing logistical and financial support in the fight against terrorism.

“We call upon the US to immediately suspend military funding to Uganda and launch an investigation into the use of military equipment to torture Ugandans; time is now for the Americans’ voice to be heard and heard loudly,” said the lawyer who was recently refused entry into Uganda.

 

Uganda government and the UPDF vehemently deny these allegations. Kyagulanyi told international reporters that during his incarceration, he and some of his co-accused were grossly abused.

“There is a person whose back was broken; there was a lady who had just given birth through C-section and was beaten badly. I am sad that the world will never know about them,” he added.

Meanwhile, the European Union Parliament last week issued a warning to the Ugandan government over violation of human rights during and after the Arua municipality by-election.

In a 14-point resolution dated September 13, the EU parliament asked the executive to respect the independence of Parliament and drop “trumped-up charges” against Bobi Wine and other 33 suspects implicated in the Arua fracas.

In reply, government spokesman Ofwono Opondo on Monday told journalists at the Uganda Media Centre that no one can lecture the ruling NRM on human rights.

“Uganda does not need any lectures on human rights... The matters referred to in this resolution such as the threat to the security of the president while in Arua on August 15, the 33 people arrested in connection with this incident including the MPs and the regrettable loss of life of some of the people, are all under investigation by credible and competent arms of the state and overseen by an independent judicial system in Uganda,” Ofwono said.

In its resolution, the EU Parliament said it was deeply concerned by the arrest of opposition MPs, noting that it is vital for Ugandan democracy that President Museveni and his government respect parliament.

EU said MPs should be left to carry out their mandate and government should drop charges against Bob Wine. The parliamentary speaker Rebecca Kadaga recently gave the executive one month to deliver a report on who tortured the MPs and other Ugandans.

Bobi Wine, three colleagues and 30 others are facing treason charges.

1 day 16 hours ago

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