2 November 2004

Uganda: Third Term: Muntu Warns Gen Museveni

MAKERERE — Former army chief warns of dangerous consequences

Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu has warned President Yoweri Museveni and pro-third term agitators that they risk suffering dangerous consequences if they try to cling to power.

"All these frustrated attempts to cling to power are because some people are fearful and terrified of losing power. The fear they are living is something normal and human which is why, we in FDC, would like to encourage them not to cling on because the consequences will be very dangerous," Muntu said.

He was addressing Makerere University students at a consultative meeting at the university campus on Friday.

The meeting had been convened by Kawempe South MP, Mr Sebuliba Mutumba, to brief his constituents on the Cabinet's White Paper which recommends amendment of the Constitution to remove the presidential term limits.

Muntu is a member of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), which is aspiring to contest for presidency in 2006.

"Bribing MPs at this critical moment is a sign of fear and mistrust by the incumbent," he said.

He said the fear to lose power had caused NRMO functionaries to bribe MPs for support.

"They are feeling inadequate," Muntu said.

Several Movement MPs last week received about Shs5 million for what the government called facilitation to support the White Paper recommendations.

But the payment has attracted strong criticism from the opposition, who say it is a ploy to bribe MPs to support the removal of presidential term limits to allow Museveni get a third term.

Muntu saluted Lwemiyaga MP, Mr Theodore Ssekikubo, for exposing the bribery syndicate when he told a press conference last week that he had rejected the NRMO demand that he pronounces himself on the third term before he could be given the Shs5 million.

Muntu said the FDC has irrefutable evidence that the government has prepared much money to bribe other politically sensitive groups especially the youth to support the third term.

"FDC is currently compiling the evidence implicating the government in bigger plans to bribe the youth not to support cause for change. We shall very soon expose this grand plan," he said.

He urged the youth to reject such bribes. He assured MPs of FDC support and urged them to resist bribes and be patriotic to defend the Constitution. "Our good MPs, we are behind you. Be firm. Museveni and group should know that no amount of intimidation or bribery will push the entire electorate into political docility," he said.

Predicting a strong anti-Museven coalition in 2006, Muntu expressed optimism that the opposition would triumph in 2006 if fair elections were held.

"The current political situation is unfortunate, but is reversible if all of us can stand up to be counted," he said. "Why should we be ruled so badly. We deserve better. We deserve dignity as human beings. We are capable of changing our society politically and we shall do it. There must be no doubt about that," Muntu added.

The students cheered back, "General, we are behind you. We shall follow you. Tell us right now." Muntu said that considering bad governance in the country today, he was regretting why he joined the bush war to fight former president, Dr Milton Obote, 20 years ago.

MPs Odonga Otto, Reagan Okumu, Patrick Musisi, Sebuliba Mutumba, Ogenga Latigo, Alex Onzima, Elijah Okupa, Christopher Kibanzanga and Jack Sabiiti attended the meeting.

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