Kampala — Opposition politician Kizza Besigye yesterday said government had plotted to assassinate Kyadondo East Member of Parliament Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, during the Arua violence and blame the killing on him.
"Efforts have been made to cause conflict within the Opposition which would be the launch pad for assassinations. This nearly happened in Arua and they targeted to kill Honourable Kyagulanyi and arrest Besigye for murder. We lost someone in Arua who was sitting where Bobi Wine sits and nobody has been arrested for shooting Yasin [Kawuma] (Bobi Wine's driver), but we know what happened to the killers," Dr Besigye told a press conference in Kampala yesterday.
However, the Minister of Information, Mr Frank Tumwebaze, dismissed the claim, saying Dr Besigye was looking for attention because he is increasingly becoming irrelevant after many years in Opposition.
"He has been one of the top Opposition leaders for the last 20 years, engaged in a lot of political theatrics, why has he never been murdered? I, however, understand his frustration. He is becoming extremely irrelevant and desperately looking for attention. He has my sympathies," Mr Tumwebaze said.
Dr Besigye said he was in possession of intelligence information from "credible sources" within the government who told him he was to be arrested and charged with the MP's murder.
Kawuma was shot dead while seated in Mr Kyagulanyi's vehicle outside a hotel in Arua Town during the election violence that ensued shortly after the final campaign rallies for the Arua Municipality parliamentary seat on August 13.
Dr Besigye said his team has circumstantial evidence to show that government has been planning to assassinate top Opposition leaders and frame their colleagues and has worked hard to sow conflict among them.
"The plan to eliminate political opponents has been there all along but has always sought to do so through subtle means, poisoning and all kinds of undetected ways. Quite a number of our colleagues have retired in that kind of way. But I think because of the mounting crisis, that [covert elimination] has shifted to a more radical way and the plan has been to ferment, choreograph and manage what appears to the public as serious disagreements between the forces that oppose the regime," Dr Besigye said.
Mr Kyagulanyi, his colleague, Mr Francis Zaake (Mityana Municipality), and more than 30 others were arrested by the military during the Arua violence. The legislators were assaulted and had to seek specialised treatment abroad. Mr Zaake remains hospitalised in India.
Mr Tumwebaze also refuted Dr Besigye's claim that government has created an economic crisis through high unemployment in order to cause a state of emergency so that the army takes over the country's affairs.
He said Uganda is on the right course and whoever does not see that is "an attention seeker."
Dr Besigye also castigated President Museveni's decision to recruit 24,000 Local Defence Unit (LDU) personnel to safeguard Kampala and Wakiso districts following the upsurge in kidnaps and assassinations.
Dr Besigye, the four-time presidential candidate, said the LDU scheme is aimed at creating a new force to counter the Opposition from capturing State power.
Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, who attended the press conference, said the LDU recruitment is illegal because Section 26 of the KCCA Act provides for creation of a metropolitan police whose welfare is to be catered for by the Authority.
Dr Besigye distanced himself from the current rift in FDC following the exit of former party president, Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu.
He instead castigated former Bukonzo East MP Yokasi Bihande, whom he accused of peddling lies against the party administration.
Last week, Mr Bihande claimed that his home in Kiburara Village, Kasese District, had been twice surrounded by gunmen in an assassination plot he suspected had been masterminded by FDC because he is the interim chairman of the imminent political party to be formed by Gen Muntu.
"I highly doubt whether Honourable Bihande knew the implication of what he was saying. I doubt whether he knows what role he would be doing in this new plan I am talking about (framing Opposition leaders). God forbid, if Honourable Bihande was killed today, the obvious suspect would be in FDC," Dr Besigye said.
On Tuesday last week, Gen Muntu publically apologised for what he called a reckless statement by one of his top allies, Mr Bihande.
Asked about whether Gen Muntu's decision to quit FDC to form a new political party is a sign of government schemes to create intrigue among the opposition, Dr Besigye answered in the abstract.
"Even when we form organisations, we form them around a common denominator. So, even as we proceed, there will be differences and we will argue among ourselves and disagree. That is all perfectly normal," he said.
"But when you leave in an undemocratic environment that can be taken advantage of by those who are not democratic to now turn normal disagreements and escalate them, ferment what would normally be disagreements that you [can] resolve, turn them into whatever they want to turn them; that is the difference," he added.