By Ofwono Opondo
The four time presidential loser, Dr Col. (rtd) Warren Kizza Besigye, is loudly crying foul, allegedly because the Uganda Police Force (UPF) has lately been dispersing his public rallies and other meetings. By this cry, Besigye is seeking to recreate his diminishing electoral fortunes as well as generate gullible public sympathy as a person being persecuted for expressing a lawful dissenting political discourse.
Without giving much credit to the opinion poll results released by Research World International, which confirmed what many have been saying for almost a year now, Besigye appears to have over stayed his welcome as the leading opposition figure since 2001 and is dragging FDC down with him. Evidently, there is a major spilt as MPs and senior members are bolting out.
The urban hooligans especially from Kampala suburbs that had become pro-Besigye machinery are shifting to new political formations. Nevertheless, we are glad that Besigye, Mugisha Muntu, Norbert Mao, Abed Bwanika, Michael Mabikke and Robert Kyagulanyi who have variously referred to each other as President Museveni’s moles, are now seeking an alliance. It should be recalled that in 2018 Kyagulanyi pleaded with Besigye and FDC not to field a candidate in the Kyadondo East by-election so that he could defeat NRM’s Sitenda Sebalu, which Bsigye refused and advised him to wait for 2021. From then, their battle lines got further drawn in Bugiri and Arua municipalities, deepening Besigye’s political miseries.
And lest we forget, since losing the 2001 election, Besigye has plotted all forms of insurrections to remove President Yoweri Museveni including trying armed rebellion. Nowhere in Besigye’s public statements in the last three years has he and those following him said that they are organising to defeat Museveni in an election. They have made it appear as if insurrection is their only option, and severely called for “Tsunami, Walk-to-Work, Power-10, Defiance, Red Week, Ttubalemese, Peoples government, and 2019 as the year of Action.” In fact, today Besigye and his coterie have the audacity of saying that Museveni “must not appear on the ballot paper for 2021,” as if Uganda belongs to them alone.
Unfortunately, some Western diplomatic missions here are either gullible to fall for Besigye’s lies that he is being denied legitimate space to express dissent, or are in cahoots with him to distablise Uganda as many people suspect. We now have credible information that when the going gets tough, there are plans to smuggle some opposition politicians to hide in these embassies as they do in Latin American countries. Ugandans deserve to know the grand conspiracy.
In his shallow calculation Besigye believes that government is either so weak or cowardly to firmly and decisively deal with him in the full media and international glare through the available constitutional and legal means including stopping his machinations of illegal public demonstrations, violent street processions, and assemblies accompanied with inciting and hate speech.
But for the record, there is no government and leader, who have been as tolerant to public criticism of both style and policy, than the NRM, and President Museveni over the last thirty three years now. Besigye and a coterie of opposition hooligans would want to be granted free passage so that they can sow general chaos, political hate, and crime under the guise of democratic politics.
This group, has tried since 2001, every possible means at its disposal including forming an outfit of armed rebellion called the Peoples’ Redemption Army (PRA) which had bases in the Democratic Republic of Congo before it was crushed by the UPDF in Pandroma, and many of its militants either got killed or captured.
Some of those captured alive in the battlefield in 2003 included Dr Wilbrod Okungu, Dr Julius Muhumuza, Maj. Tom Mugizi, Capt. Mohammed Kiwanuka, and lawyer Samuel Nathan Okiring. While Okiring, Muhumuza, Mugizi, and Kiwanuka were later granted amnesty, Okungu fled from Mulago hospital bed where he was undergoing treatment from gun wounds and fled to Sweden where he lives to-date. James Opoka who was Besigye’s aide joined the LRA and got killed there. Besigye’s return in November 2005 was a negotiated effort. The PRA Operational Commander, Col. Edison Muzoora later died in a neighboring country and his body was quietly dumped near his home in Bushenyi.
When he was defeated in 2006, apart from petitioning the election results in court, Besigye generally lived a low profile life, except for the court appearances on treason and rape charges. Having survived these court battles, Besigye resumed his ebullience where in 2011, following a humiliating defeat in which he got 27%, he mounted a protracted insurrection using Kampala urban rogues disguised as ‘walk-to-work’. Besigye claimed that he was walking to work, and yet at the same time saying the economy had totally collapsed.
For this reason, government knows why Besigye has now chosen what he believes to be a more risk free style, disguising as genuine democratic electioneering, although he betrayed himself when he announced the formation of the so-called people’s government and said its main objective is disruption and causing government downfall.