Uganda: UK FDC debate held recently in London

By Our Reporter – Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) leader, Dr. Kiiza Besigye, whom many Ugandans essentially deem to have won the February 2011, presidential elections, says not until people understand that there is need to regain the power and a shift from the rule of the gun to the people as the constitution pronounces, Uganda’s problems are far from over.

 ”The power can only shift from the gun to the people, if people start to focus where the problem is. This will not happen overnight, but the process is on. I believe unless people get to understand that they don’t have power, they will remain with a lot of problems,” said Dr. Besigye whilst speaking to hundreds of Ugandans who paid £ 20 to attend the Saturday, November 12, Grand Public Debate, at Dunning Hall Community Centre, Earlham Grove-East London.

In the company of his Secretary General, Hon. Alice Alaso [Women MP representing for Soroti district] and FDC-UK Chapter Chairman Dr. Chris Kamugisha, Dr Kiiza Besigye was received with a thunderous welcome. Although, not all, he irritated a few members from the ruling party (NRM) who walked out at some point in the middle of the conference hall before the end of the debate; particularly when the horse voice doctor started talking. “Why do you think you like him [Museveni] better than I do, when he would have died in your hands at that time when he was vulnerable? Now he doesn’t need your help, he is very strong,” said Dr. Besigye in reference to those singing about Museveni.

He added that: “My new member of NRM, the peace you’re talking about, is very deceptive.”

With a horse-voice the opposition leader Dr. Besigye, once Museveni’s personal physician, when reacting to an overwhelming call from the participants to use force to remove Museveni, he said that once power is shifted from the gun to the population, Museveni’s government cannot stand any longer. He described Museveni’s rule as ‘Patrimonial’ built on four main things. He listed the four major problems that are facing the population as; (1) fear that has been implanted into people’s minds; (2) patronage—people supporting the regime for some benefits at the expense of the taxpayer’s money; (3) propaganda-which is used to make sure that people are being bombarded with information that justifies the current situation as normal but not a crisis. He said that: “the budget for Museveni’s propaganda is unbelievable.”

He listed the divide and rule as another factor where Museveni plays his cards to disunited the opposition. “Because if you’re untied you may cause a problem, he [Museveni] makes sure that there is pinch within the opposition. Instead of looking at where the problem is, you’re looking at your neighbour as a problem,” said Dr. Besigye.

 “We need to focus where Uganda’s problem lies. There is one major problem and it is a fundamental one,” said Dr Besigye, adding: “When you open the constitution, the very first Article says; ‘all power belongs to the people.’ But we all know the people don’t have power!”

“This is where the problem resides. Our people are hostages and they have been hostages all these years because the power shifted from wherever it was, to the guns,” said Dr Besigye.

Dr. Besigye, a former member of Museveni’s National Resistance Army, fought alongside the Ugandan president in the guerrilla war that overthrow Dr. Milton Obote’s government in 1986, gave a talking-to those singing Museveni at the moment, yet they couldn’t help him in a time of need.

“I’m sure, you all know possibly; nobody in here supported him [Museveni] before I did. I doubt if there is anybody. During the 1980 campaigns I went in his village [Lwakitula –Rushere, nobody wanted to know or listen to Museveni,” said Dr. Besigye in reference to his contribution towards Museveni’s UPM party that was trounced badly but opted to launching the guerrilla against Obote. He went on to explain: “I was very energetic by that time much more than am now.”

“We campaigned heavily but Museveni didn’t get more than 5 percent of the vote in Rushere, he was badly trounced by this Sam Kutesa, I mean this one who has been involved in all the ghosts of corruption,” Dr Besigye explained Museveni’s loss to Sam Kutesa.

He went on to say: “When Museveni went to the bush, we who supported him became the target.”

 “By overthrowing Museveni using the guns is possible,” said Besigye, when reacting to those who were agitating to use the gun to overthrow Museveni. He, however, added that: “The use of the gun will not solve our problem.  Our current problems are because of having too much power in the hands of one man who thinks he just next to God.”

He also said that: “I have never ruled out violence completely.  But this should only come as backup, not the principle force to achieve the change.”

“People have to realise that we don’t have power; we need that situation where people can realise that we don’t have power but we need it,” said Dr Besigye adding that: “Once people realise and find the mechanism of communicating, combine and organising effectively, nothing will fail.”

“But using violence, it will be playing in the hands of the dictator,” said Besigye. He further said that: “The moment the fear goes away, no one can stop the people’s mass uprising, and all guns will be rendered useless.”

“That is his fear that people are being awaken. Take a look at Kiseka Market, people stood their ground and the market couldn’t be taken,” said Dr Besigye in reference to people from a local market in Uganda which is notorious for most of the resistance and the epicentre of the previous riots in the capital-Kampala. “It is self trigger people’s using mass.”

He further explained that: “We all know the armies they rely and operate on orders from above.  So, the gun is not the best solution to our problem, we could overthrow one dictator but we shall only replace him with another dictator.”

 Separately, Independent candidate, Sam Lubega, called on Ugandans to emulate the North Africa uprising.

“We cannot put our heads in the sand; we must rise up, we must work together, we must link with our leaders at home and here in the Diaspora so that we can overcome the dictatorship,” said Lubega, adding that: “We must say no to dictatorship. The Libyans are not different from us; the Egyptians are not different from us and the Tunisians are not different from us, but as Dr. Besigye said, we need to be more organised; more focused; consistent; realistic and more meaningful. That is when we can remove the dictatorship. I think the Ben Ali effect can work in Uganda.”

Another speaker; Col. Samson Mande (formerly working with Museveni but now in exile Sweden), he called on the politician to unite and forget about the religion; tribe, party colours but to think about the way forward.

Other speaker were: Hon Alice Alaso (FDC Secretary General), Betty Atiku  (Democratic Party (DP),  Robert Egwe who had represented the ruling party the NRM, but walked out with others after unsustainable coal poured on them by pro-Besigye supporter at the conference. It was attorney Patrick Asiimwe who stepped to save the situation, Belinda Atim (Uganda Peoples’ Congress);  Edith Mpanga (Uganda Federal Alliance); Moses Kiwanuka (Uganda United Pro-Democracy  Forum)  and Richard Semitego of (SUUBI).