The President's Statement as concerns Dr. Besigye's recent actions and calls to protest

Tuesday 17th May 2011

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‘We shall know them by their fruits’ – Matthew 7:16


H. E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

President of the Republic of Uganda

Nakasero - 17th May 2011


It says in the Gospel of St. Matthew 7:16, that “…We shall know them by their fruits…”  Ever since Dr. Besigye started the latest of his treacherous ‘walk-to-work’ – those who did not know the history of these groups started saying: “let him walk.  What harm is there? Odong Otto walked and prayed in the church and there was no problem.”  Those who were of that view did not know the ever constant hidden agenda of these groups. 

In April 2007, Hon. Betty Anywar pretended to be demonstrating in defence of Mabira Forest without liaising with the Police.  What was the consequence?  Three people died, targeted by those demonstrators and a lot of property was destroyed.  Then, there were the Kayunga riots because the Katikkiro of Buganda had been stopped from proceeding to that area because of the potential for inter-ethnic conflict.

Again, property was destroyed, including the Police station at Nateete.  The intention of the organizers is always to do that.  If you are not the ones leading Uganda, since the population rejected you in the elections, must you destroy the economy of Uganda and attack those who did not vote for you?  That is why the women are always attacked by the opposition groups, saying: “mmwe mulemezzawo Museveni” – ‘you women, are the ones that always vote Museveni back into power’.  In the recent riots, about 50 vehicles of UTODA were attacked at the Taxi Park because they (UTODA) always support Museveni (NRM).

Our NRM supporters such as the NRM Chairperson of Rubaga, Ziyad Seburiba, the NRM youth leader, Jamil Kabugo, the NRM Chairperson of Teke Division in Gulu Municipality, Santa Oketa, the NRM Chairperson of Lalogi sub-county in Gulu, Samuel Odora, some women in Nateete and Kibuye and many others, were stripped because they were putting on yellow t-shirts (the colour of NRM).  This is, exactly, what was happening in Northern Uganda.

In that case, this opposition was working with Kony.  They would kill NRM supporters such as the very good NRM Chairperson of Pabbo sub-county, the late Alpeo Bongomin who was murdered. That is why NRM was doing badly in the North during the previous elections.  After the defeat of Kony, the NRM performance is very good as was manifested in the last elections.

Coming to the ‘walk-to-work’ issue, it is the same hidden agenda of Besigye and his groups.  They want to ignite riots using drug-users or even hired groups to loot the property of the wanainchi. The Government response was: if you want to ‘walk’, liaise with the Police so that your ‘walking’ does not interfere with the activities of other Ugandans.  They refused to do that.  The Police also refused to allow them to ‘walk’.  When Besigye ‘walked’, the Police arrested him. 

He violently resisted arrest.  How can a leader behave like that?  If you resist arrest or direction by authorized officials of Government, how do you expect ordinary people to behave?  Recently, we saw pictures of the Mayor of Washington humbly being arrested without resistance.  Why was Besigye resisting?  After all, the Police would produce him in a court of law within 48 hours.  What is the problem, then?  At one stage Besigye wanted to go to Makerere University because he wanted to link up with the other rioters there, who had previously caused trouble by maliciously, falsely and intentionally misinforming students that university charges had been raised when the matter has never even been discussed.

This same Besigye, along with some other opposition leaders, were telling lies to people during the campaigns that: “Museveni has sold Lake Kyoga”; “Museveni has sold Lake Victoria”; “Museveni wants to steal the land of the Acholi, the land of the Langi, the land of the Itesot; etc.”  He had a case of treason which was dismissed on grounds other than the merit of the case – because the security personnel had not followed some procedure.

Weaknesses in the existing laws, too much laxity by elements of the Judiciary and the Police allow all this indiscipline and criminality to persist. When, therefore, it came to the so-called ‘walk-to-work’, without liaising with the Police, the aim by Besigye and the other opposition leaders was not any different.  The aims were to damage people’s property, have some Ugandans killed and intimidate other Ugandans who do not support their reactionary positions.

Therefore, those who were of the view that the ‘walk-to-work’ was harmless were wrong. The Police was right to, straight away, block these efforts. It saved people’s properties, in the main, from being looted and destroyed.   Nevertheless, people close shops whenever these ‘walks’ start.  They, therefore, lose time and opportunity in their businesses.  It scares away, people, especially, tourists and investors.

When it came to Besigye returning from Nairobi, his true purpose was exposed for the benefit of the naïve types who have been talking of the harmlessness of Besigye’s ‘walk-to-work’. This time, the FDCs had agreed with the Police that Besigye should not spend more than one hour on Entebbe road so that he goes to “pray” at Nsambya Sharing Hall grounds. Of course, all this was not in good faith on Besigye’s part.  Why choose the day of the Swearing-in to engage in a public prayer.

Why not any other day? Even if the prayer would have been on the 11th of May 2011, the day before the Swearing-in ceremony, as had been originally planned, it would not have been correct. Many leaders of friendly African Countries who were coming to attend the Swearing-in Ceremony were arriving on that day.  What happened on the 12th could have happened on the 11th of May, also.  Anyway, when I was informed that Kenya Airways had refused Besigye to board in Nairobi because the Uganda Government would not allow him to disembark, I straight away told the people concerned that, that was not correct.

You cannot stop a Ugandan from returning to his country, if he wants to do so.  All he needed was to agree with the Police on the terms of using Entebbe road.  This clarification was done at 9.00 a.m., when I first got this information. There were two flights that day that were yet to arrive from Nairobi: Air Uganda and Kenya Airways.   Besigye refused to use either of them.   One was Ugandan and he did not want to use the Ugandan one.  The other was Kenyan, which would arrive after 5.00 p.m. and he did not want to use it because he would not be “welcomed by his supporters”.

Why insist on being “welcomed by his supporters” on the very day the Swearing-in ceremony is taking place or even the day before. There are 365 days on the calendar.  The day of the Swearing-in ceremony, on the other hand, is fixed by the Constitution of Uganda.  It cannot be changed. Besides, by tradition and, as part of the African integration process, we invite other African Heads of State and Government as well as other guests from abroad.  It is, therefore, not simply a Ugandan function; it is an African function.

It is all in bad faith on the part of Besigye and his group.   Nevertheless, my view was that as long as they agreed with the Police, even with that unnecessarily complicated arrangement, there would be no problem.

However, two problems occurred:  Problem number one, the FDCs did not keep part of their agreement to spend not more than one hour on Entebbe road; Secondly, the Police officers and one Army officer who were involved, did not also keep their part of the agreement that if the FDCs did not use one hour to get off the Entebbe road, the Police and other supporting security elements would throw them off Entebbe road.  

Besigye and his group arrived at Entebbe Airport at 9.00 a.m.  By the time we left Kololo airstrip at 3.00 p.m., Besigye and his group were still at Bwebajja.   They had spent all the intervening hours at a disco at Abaitababiri and other spots. The excuse of “big crowds” that held up Besigye for hours is a myth and a lie because I was the first to drive through that road after Kololo.  Somebody had advised me to take shelter at Nakasero State Lodge until they had removed Besigye from the road. I rejected that view and went straight to Entebbe. I was able to see a few hundred people at Kibuye roundabout, at Najjanakumbi and Kajjansi, making FDC signs.

By the time I came across Besigye’s convoy at Bwebajja, there were no crowds. It was scores of vehicles and bodabodas deliberately ‘imported’ from Kampala and other areas to cause the confusion. It was not local crowds overwhelming security in order to catch glimpse of the “liberator” Besigye. Yes, I was told that there was some crowd at Abaitababiri, but the Police had dispersed it. Therefore, those “crowds”, whether small or big, were dispersible. Proof is that Besigye had no crowd when I came across his vehicles at Bwebajja.

What was the consequence of Besigye’s irresponsibility and the Police weakness?  Shame to Uganda.  African delegations and other road-users that were coming from Kololo were pelted with stones by indisciplined elements in those crowds at Kibuye roundabout and, possibly, at other points.  

The vehicle of the President of Nigeria, for example, was hit by a stone. A stone missed narrowly the vehicle of President Kabila.  Many other delegations reported similar incidents.   All this because of irresponsible elements who seem not to care about Uganda.

We apologize to our guests who were inconvenienced by this hooliganism and irresponsibility. However, those that were responsible will be held accountable for these crimes. Besides, the NRM has already started the process of strengthening the law by amending the Constitution and the Penal Code to ensure that this type of indiscipline ends.

Therefore, those who have been talking of the harmless ‘walks’ can see their mistakes. The media houses both local and international such as Al-jazeera, BBC, NTV, The Daily Monitor, etc., that cheer on these irresponsible people are enemies of Uganda’s recovery and they will have to be treated as such.   Why do they not also report the negative acts of these elements?

Yes, the Police has made its own mistakes, including its reluctance to eject Besigye from Entebbe road when he failed to meet the one hour deadline as had been agreed upon.  There was also the criminal killing of a baby in Masaka and I have condemned the act of caning civilians.   Wrong-doers should be arrested and hand-cuffed, not beaten.  

The original problem, however, is the irresponsibility of the opposition groups.  If you want to demonstrate, do so according to the law and in co-ordination with the Police so that you exercise your right of assembly but other Ugandans also exercise their right of movement.

I have been told of a man at Equatoria shopping mall who lost about US$ 500,000 worth of goods.   On the day, when Besigye was on his criminal circus along Entebbe road, I saw with my own eyes that the roadside fruit-sellers had covered their produce with tarpaulin. 

They were not selling in apprehension of looting their produce.  This will not continue.  We are seeking for everybody’s understanding as we end this criminality using all the angles of the Law.

I thank you.

Yoweri K. Museveni


17th May 2011

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