Uganda: Bobi, Besigye Accuse Museveni of Basking in Impunity

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Solidarity Conference in 2014.
14 February 2021

A section of the Opposition politicians have taken to social media to express their dismay following President Museveni's admission that hundreds of Ugandans who have been reported missing in the last few months are in the hands of security operatives.

In a televised address on Saturday evening, Mr Museveni urged Ugandans to "ignore the disappearance talk" saying many of the said missing citizens, most of whom are Opposition supporters from central Uganda where he lost to his closest contender Mr Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, the National Unity Platform (NUP) leader; were arrested by security operatives attached to the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) and a commando unit that had been fighting Al-Shabaab in Somalia and Allied Democratic Forces in DR Congo.

Commandos deployed

"The talk of disappearances should be ignored because it can't happen under the National Resistance Movement (NRM). Under NRM, even if a mistake is made, it will be discovered or answered. That's the point I wanted to mention tonight," Mr Museveni said.

"We brought a distinguished commando unit from Somalia - which had also destroyed ADF. This commando group quickly defeated the terrorists who wanted to disturb elections. They killed some and arrested some of these terrorists," President Museveni said in reference to the November riots which left than 50 civilians dead.

Mr Museveni, 76, said he was compelled to deploy the highly-trained soldiers to reinforce police efforts to contain growing urban criminality.

"The lawbreakers and criminals are the ones that forced us to deploy the army to support police. For instance, upon deployment, CMI arrested some criminals and that explains some disappearances," he said.

Violation of Uganda's constitution

But to his former challenger, Dr Kizza Besigye, the statement is an admission that the president oversaw the violation of Uganda's Constitution and laws on human rights and freedoms.

"A sleepy and yawning Mr Museveni has arrogantly confirmed in a live TV address that, both, before and after the just ended Uganda general election, he oversaw the violation of Uganda's Constitution and laws on human rights and freedoms! Confirms kidnappings, illegal detentions," Dr Besigye, a four time presidential contender said in a statement on his social media platforms moments after Mr Museveni's address.

The former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) president cited Article three of the Constitution which provides for defence of the Constitution.

Contested figures of victims

Mr Kyagulanyi, who was Mr Museveni's main opponent in the January 14 poll, has since contested the poll results and accused the veteran leader of falsifying the number of NUP supporters arrested by security operatives and "downplaying atrocities against Ugandans."

"Without any shame, he [Museveni] claimed that the people who have been abducted are few in number. To date, hundreds of families are reaching out to us to report missing relatives. Our comrades who have been lucky to show up have told us unbelievable stories of torture and all manner of humiliation. Some have showed up with missing or paralysed limbs and wounds all over their bodies. Others have come back with shattered manhood after being injected with unknown substances and tortured. In the coming days, we shall profile some of these comrades," the pop star turned politician said.

According to Kasese Woman MP, Ms Winnie Kiiza, who is also former leader of opposition in Parliament, sovereignty is no excuse for trampling on the citizens' rights.

"No to sovereign impunity!" she tweeted.

Government investigate errant operatives

However, the minister of ICT and national guidance, Ms Judith Nabakooba said the president had instructed the police and all other security agencies to provide a detailed report about all people who were arrested recently.

"This will enable the country to get a detailed account of who was arrested and for what reason. Government of Uganda does not support torture or any form of violence against anyone. Security officials who use torture against suspects are against the law and are liable to individual prosecution," she tweeted.

According to the minister, Mr Museveni was very clear that in situations where security officers "went beyond and committed excesses like torture of suspects, they will be dealt with".


Over the past few months, hordes of Ugandans, especially the youth, have been rounded up by security operatives.

Many of those who have been picked up have not been in contact with their loved ones since. It has taken months for some, and the crackdown seems to continue.

The different accounts this publication has gathered about many of those arrests - in fact almost all - show that they are supporters of the National Unity Platform (NUP) party and their loved ones suspect that the arrests are politically motivated.

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