The Observer (Kampala)

25 May 2014

Uganda: Museveni - Mbabazi Is Innocent

There are no differences between me and him, president tells youths, while admitting his concern at the political activities of the premier's wife and sister

During a revealing meeting with NRM youth leaders last week, President Museveni said he and Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi were talking regularly and had no differences. The State House Entebbe meeting is the third this month, following some party youths publicly opposing the Kyankwanzi resolution demanding that Museveni be sole NRM candidate in the 2016 elections.

The rebelling youths want Mbabazi instead. A fourth meeting is scheduled for today, as President Museveni intensifies his efforts to woo all the youths back to his side. At the Wednesday meeting, insider sources said Museveni made some interesting revelations, among which was the claim that he and Mbabazi had no differences.

According to these sources, the president, however, said he had been rattled by the activities of the premier's wife Jacqueline Mbabazi and her sister, Hope Mwesigye. Museveni said he had been told that Jacqueline, and not Amama, was the one trying to mobilise party delegates against him.

"She did it without the knowledgeof her husband. That is what Mbabazi told me. She was working with Hope [Mwesigye] and recruiting you young men," the president reportedly said, as he pointed at the pro-Mbabazi youths.

Indeed, Museveni assured the youths that he enjoys a healthy working relationship with Mbabazi. Museveni also revealed that he worked with Mbabazi to drop the charges against two pro-Mbabazi youths, Adam Luzindana Buyinza, the NRM vice chairman for Kampala, and Willy Omodo-Omodo, the NRM youth vice chairman for northern Uganda.

The duo had been accused of bribing and tricking NRM members and mobilisers into signing a petition to convene a delegates' conference to fight the Kyankwanzi resolution adopted by NRM MPs during their retreat at Kyankwanzi in February. The charges were dropped on May 2.

Interviewed on Saturday, Mwesigye said she was not bothered by Museveni's remarks.

"He should be grateful that I played a part in ensuring that he gets the third term [in 2005]," Mwesigye said by telephone.

Kyankwanzi resolutions:

Our sources said that Museveni used the meeting to shed more light on how the Kyankwanzi resolution came about. He said prior to the resolution, he had said in his speech at Kyankwanzi that there were some senior party officials who were using party structures to promote their personal ambitions.

He said by the time he made the remarks, he had been told that one of them was Mbabazi. Pointing at Evelyn Anite, the Youth MP for Northern Uganda, who orchestrated the resolution, Museveni told the youths she approached him and suggested that they pass a resolution "to establish who the guilty person is."

"Anite told me that if the MPs bring up that resolution, we shall see that person because he/she will be uncomfortable. And I saw the person," Museveni reportedly said, as some youths chorused, "who?" The president did not answer.

Using an analogy from Ankole, Museveni told the youths that he was still strong and capable.

"In Ankole it is almost a taboo to sell a cow that gives you much milk," he said.

He said it was important for the party to be united and to work in harmony if it wants to achieve its objectives and deliver on its programmes. The meeting, however, had got off to a dramatic start when Denis Namara, the NRM Youth League chairman, and Anite, almost exchanged blows at the entrance of State House. This was after Anite tried to block some youths from attending the meeting, claiming they had come to "embarrass the president."

But Namara stood his ground and reminded Anite that she was not qualified to vet the youths since she is not part of the NRM Youth League executive. After failing to reach an agreement, the two almost went physical, forcing Special Forces Command (SFC) personnel manning the gates to intervene.

Museveni had earlier on in May met the youths at his country home in Rwakitura. The Rwakitura meeting was a follow-up to the one held on May 13 at State House Entebbe during which it was decided that the youths hold regional conferences culminating in a major delegates' conference on July 25.

NRM Muslim youths for Mbabazi:

Meanwhile, NRM Muslim youths meeting at Kampala Serena hotel on Friday resolved to support Mbabazi if he offers himself as a candidate for the top-most leadership of NRM, going into the 2016 elections.

"NRM Muslim youths appreciate the services of President Museveni since 1986 but our humble request is that he does not offer himself to contest for the presidency. Therefore, we request Rt Hon Amama Mbabazi, the prime minister of Uganda and NRM secretary general, to contest for the presidency in 2016," reads one of the resolutions.

Numbering about 80, the youths said the Kyankwanzi resolution was illegal and created a bad precedent for the ruling party. The group's coordinator, Hassan Sserunjoji, said that Museveni's government had marginalized Muslims, especially in appointments to top government positions. He said a change in leadership might bring about a similar change in the fortunes of Muslims.

"For a long time, the Muslim community has been marginalized... this has ideologically made the Muslims not active in politics, more especially the youths," Sserunjoji said.

Shakur Walusimbi, a councillor at Kawempe division, said they had so far mobilised hundreds of Muslim youths to take on different positions both in the private and public sectors.

"This is the right time for the young Muslims to show our determination and to strategically position ourselves in the leadership of this country," Walusimbi said.

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