Dr Lina Zedriga Waru Abuku is the deputy president of the National Unity Platform (NUP) party.
She was appointed to the position in April this year by the party leader Robert Kyagulanyi to help him tussle it out with President Yoweri Museveni in the 2021 presidential elections.
A holder of a joint PhD in Peace and Conflict Resolution from Sewanee University, USA and Uganda’s Makerere University, Mrs Zedriga has done extensive work in the Civil Society sector and grassroot politics. She is aged 59, has five children and four grandchildren. Although that would be a profile to envy, one more question remains unanswered: her husband; what really happened to Mr Rauxen Zedriga?
The disappearance of Mr Zedriga in August 2001 is as elusive as the escape of opposition leader Dr Kizza Besigye from his home in Luzira months after the first presidential election he took part in and lost according to results from the country’s electoral commission.
In that election that politically shook Museveni since his ascent to power in 1986, Mr Zedriga was Dr Besigye’s campaign coordinator in West Nile. Since August 2001, Zedriga, the former coordinator of the NGO Forum, and a development consultant, has never been seen in public. Whether he is alive or dead is something the Ugandan State and Zedriga’s family are either unwilling to broach or are able to only speculate about.
Zedriga’s last recorded public appearance was at Hotel Africana in Kampala on August 17 – the day Dr Besigye is said to have left the country. At Africana, Zedriga, the former executive secretary of DENIVA, had attended the event to mark the end of a two-week child rights course for UPDF officers in his capacity as a development consultant. Since then, Zedriga has never returned to his home in Wakiso district’s Gayaza neither has he ever been seen anywhere in West Nile (and other parts of Uganda).
Reports suggest that Zedriga, who had for years pushed Museveni’s government to allow Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to operate more freely, had fled Uganda into exile, first to South Africa and later to the US. How he left Uganda is still a puzzle for security agencies and his family members.
That Zedriga disappeared on or about the day Besigye fled the country has been interpreted by some to mean that he either went with his boss that day or followed him afterwards. Besigye is said to have fled with six members of the Reform Agenda, the pressure group that ran his 2001 campaign. These, it is said, included James Opoka, Anne Mugisa and Vincent Kimera. Zedriga would later inform his family the development consultant had left the country and was safe, other sources had claimed at the time. But his family wouldn’t want to be associated with this line of thought to avoid questions from the State.
Even Besigye has severally declined to reveal how he escaped, and who he escaped with. In 2014, he dismissed an account by Maj Michael Ssali alias Maj Ssalambwa (RIP) that he had used a boat to flee Uganda to Tanzania before connecting to South Africa and the US.
“That is a story I am not yet ready to tell but certainly there was no Ssalambwa anywhere in those arrangements at all, and in fact, Ssalambwa had ceased long time being with me and he wasn’t in the picture. Anything he says would simply be guess work,” Besigye told Daily Monitor. “But at an appropriate time, I will tell the story. The reason I have not talked about the story is that it would expose some of the people whom I would rather not expose at the moment.”
Back home, Besigye’s escape into exile and Zedriga’s disappearance still gave Museveni headache. The state accused the duo of working with People’s Redemption Army (PRA) of Col Samson Mande (who later claimed he had helped Dr Besigye to flee), Anthony Kyakabale and Edson Muzora (RIP) to overthrow government. In fact, Museveni held a press conference to tell Besigye to openly denounce PRA or face his wrath. Security agencies would later arrests scores of people said to be linked to PRA. These included Col Mande’s aide and Dr Besigye’s brother Joseph Saasi Musasizi who would later die of kidney failure at Mulago Hospital after detention at Nyamushekyera Prison in Bushenyi District.
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