The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: VP Ssekandi in Poison Scare

Nearly two weeks after the mysterious death of Butaleja Woman MP Cerinah Nebanda, Vice President Edward Ssekandi was rushed into a clinic over fears he could have been poisoned.

The fears turned out to be unfounded, but they have not helped several politicians living in fear. Many are now carefully choosing what and where they eat, and who serves it.

A host of powerful politicians are living in constant fear of eating or drinking something laced with poison nowadays. And many in Parliament are carefully choosing what and where they eat and, who serves it, especially in the wake of the mysterious death of Butaleja Woman MP, Cerinah Nebanda.

Tamale Mirundi, the President's press secretary, raised eyebrows during a radio talk-show at the weekend when he revealed that the Vice President, Edward Ssekandi, had suffered a poison scare. Mirundi revealed that Ssekandi, who feared he had been poisoned when he felt unwell last Wednesday, was rushed to Mukwaya General Clinic in Nsambya for treatment.

Incidentally, it is the same clinic where Nebanda was rushed before being pronounced dead two weeks ago. A dark cloud still hangs over Nebanda's death. A government autopsy report points to alcohol and drug abuse but MPs point to poisoning as the cause of her death.

"Unlike Ssekandi who was this week rushed to Mukwaya General Clinic on fears that he was poisoned...Me Tamale I'm immune to poison. The scare of poisoning is the order of the day these days ... It is only people like me who don't fear poison because I'm immune to poison and I can defuse poison by taking water mixed with charcoal," Tamale Mirundi said on the Simba Radio talk-show, 'Gasimbagane ne banamawulire' last Saturday.

Tamale Mirundi further revealed that Ssekandi was found to be hypertensive instead and was offered treatment, bed rest and later discharged. Ssekandi did not pick any of his known mobile phone numbers. However, a staff at Mukwaya General Clinic, who preferred not to be named, confirmed that the Vice President had been their patient on Wednesday (Boxing Day).

"He was brought here under heavy security ... he even did not go under the normal procedure of paying consultation fee but was rushed straight to one of our doctors," he said.

After receiving medication, including anti-histamine tablets, Ssekandi was reportedly advised to get some bed rest and was later discharged when he started feeling better. Before Ssekandi, Tamale was reportedly poisoned in a still unnamed city local restaurant, where he had gone to eat cow hooves, mulokonyi. He was later treated at a clinic near his Zzana residence.

The Observer recently reported that many MPs no longer eat in public places to avoid being poisoned (See: MPs in poison panic).

"I usually go back to my residence for lunch and in the event that I can't go home, I starve," Haruna Kasolo, MP for Kyotera, told The Observer on Friday.

His Ntenjeru South colleague, Patrick Nsanja, added that he only takes his lunch at select hotels and restaurants.

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