Besigye: Uganda Buys Wine As Flood Victims Die

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“Museveni’s government is spending more than 160 billions shilling to buy expensive wines and Champagne for the Queen, whilst there is no money even to help its own people who are dying of the floods in northern Uganda,� Dr. Besigye declared

[Africa News Update]


Fearing that the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings may have been postponed or cancelled due to recent devastating floods in the northern part of the country, the Uganda government delayed declaring the crisis an emergency, the leading opposition leader has charged, before a London audience.

Additionally, the opposition leader denounced Yoweri K. Museveni’s government for spending millions of dollars to host the summit next month even as floods victims suffer. He said deteriorating conditions may push people towards armed uprising.

Dr. Kizza Besigye, the leader of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), whom many believe actually won Uganda’s last presidential elections says the flooding disaster has exposed Museveni’s government as being indifferent to the plight of its own citizens.

“Museveni’s government is spending more than 160 billions shilling to buy expensive wines and Champagne for the Queen, whilst there is no money even to help its own people who are dying of the floods in northern Uganda,” Dr. Besigye declared to a packed audience at in Conway Hall, Holborn-Central London on Saturday, October 6. “It’s very shameful.”

His reference was to Queen Elizabeth II’s impending visit to Uganda in November to open the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

Dr. Besigye added: ““This is disgusting, because the government has money to buy wine for Queen and CHOGM delegates but no money to rescue the flood victims.”

The government has imported a fleet of sleek automobiles to ferry the world leaders when they arrive there next month and also built luxury accommodations, all costing several hundred million dollars.

The FDC leaders contrasted the money reserved for the Commonwealth meetings with funds for the flood victims. “Although the CHOGM money is available, Museveni was recently involved in a walk to fundraise just only 10 billions for flood victims in northern Uganda—a sign of bad government which doesn’t cater for its own people.”

“The government took so long to declare the northern flood situation as a state of emergency with the fear that such news would jeopardize CHOGM or would lead to its cancellation, they delayed and our people suffered.”

To clear the way for Commonwealth construction, ShimoniDemonstrationSchool and Teachers’ Colleges, which had been around for more than 50 years, were also demolished for a hotel, displacing 3,600 pupils and 600 teachers.

One parent noted that with the recent discovery of oil in Uganda, “you’re going to see another Kamuzu-Banda,” a reference to the late Malawi president-for-life.

Dr. Besigye, a former member of Museveni’s National Resistance Army, fought with the Ugandan president in the guerrilla war that helped topple Milton Obote’s government. Museveni won power in 1986. Dr. Besigye, once Museveni’s personal physician, says Museveni’s government is worse that the Obote government and he apologized to all people affected and expressed regrets for participating in the armed struggle.

“It’s the duty of the leaders to inform the citizens about their human rights. And all Ugandans need to be more assertive,” says Dr. Besigye.

A prominent Ugandan, Princesses Sarah Male Kamulali, asked Dr. Besigye whether the resistance might have been better served if he had refused to be released following his detention in the run up to the presidential elections on trumped up charges. She noted that former South African President Nelson Mandela and the late Abu Kakyama Mayanja, Uganda’s former Justice Minister, had galvanized opposition in their respective countries while they were detained.

In response to a question Dr. Besgiye said, indeed, no strategy—including armed resistance—could be taken off in establishing democracy in Uganda.

“We can’t completely rule out option of plan B if at all, all other options fails. If all options available for changing the situation in Uganda are exhausted, there will be no alternative but for the people to resort to violence,” Dr. Besigye said. “But violence might not solve the problems in Uganda if people are not educated about their rights.”

“We established the human rights desk to deal with people problems regarding persecution of any kind any where in the world—our office desk contacts will be posted on the website so that each one can access the information,” Dr. Besigye noted.

In an interesting twist, FDC International Envoy, Sam Akaki told the gathering that the Commonwealth in its 1980 election reports, “stated clearly that, the elections were free and fair,” yet it “failed to condemn the rebellion which started on pretext of rigged elections.” He added: “The Commonwealth kept quite which means they approved the rebellion and people started fighting in Luwero. Now they are going to Uganda in November and we don’t know what will be next.”

The gathering had several speakers including; the Party’s Vice President Salaam Musumba, Electoral Commissioner Maj. Rubaramira Ruranga, and retired Col. John Ogole, who was leader when the UNLA battled the NRA in Luwero Triangle, the party’s coordinator in the UK and Northern Ireland Charles Okwir and G-6 Chairman Prince Dickson Wassajja.



Investigative news reporter Miwambo writes for The Black Star News from London.



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