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Written by Hon. John Livingstone Okello-Okello, In 1989, the then legislating arm of the Uganda government, the National Resistance Council (NRC), unilaterally and extraordinarily extended its term of office by five more years. This selfish act became a controversial topic for discussion among Ugandans for quite a while. The people were, however, too helpless to have the extension reversed.I was discussing this abnormal behavior of the NRC with a former member (now deceased) of the defunct Military Commission of the late Paul Muwanga when I was told a story, which seems to bear much relevance to the political situation obtaining in our country today. This man was an adult Ugandan of sound mind.Our discussion started and went on as follows: “Do you know what Museveni fears most?” he asked.“I don’t know”, I replied.“Not the gun, but a free and fair election”, he shot back.“Why?” I asked.“Because he has never won any, and will never win any”, he empathetically said.The gentlemen then proceeded to tell me an incident, which he claimed had taken place in the Military Commission of which Museveni was the Vice-Chairman. He told me that in 1979, Ugandans who converged at Moshi, Tanzania, made a number of fundamental decisions. One of the decisions was that after the overthrow of Idi Amin and total liberation of Uganda, general elections, under a multiparty system, would be held within eighteen months.June 3, 1979, was declared to be the date Uganda was to be totally liberated. Eighteen months, therefore, started running from thence. Due to the fluidity of Uganda politics at that time, the first President after Idi Amin, Prof. Y. K. Lule, was removed from office within only 68 days and replaced with Godfrey Binaisa Lukongwa (QC).On assuming the high office of Head of State, Binsisa, reportedly with the connivance of his Defence Minister, Yoweri Museveni, changed the Moshi decision and declared that the general elections would now only take place under the umbrella of the Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF). This did not go down well with the majority of Ugandans, who then started punching holes in Binaisa’s umbrella until he was overthrown by the Military Commission led by the late Paulo Muwanga with Museveni as his Vice-chairman.Paulo Muwanga reverted to the original position taken at Moshi and announced that the decision to hold general elections within one-and-a-half year from June 3, 1979 must be respected and implemented. The member of the Military Commission, who related the story to me, said that the Commission spent two days debating this matter without reaching a consensus. That the Vice-chairman of the Commission was bitterly opposed to the idea of holding general elections under a multiparty system. Reportedly, his argument was that the country was still undergoing a revolution and there was no need for holding general elections before consolidating the gains of the revolution.At the end of two days, the matter was reportedly decided by a vote and it remained the only matter the Commission ever voted on during its tenure of office. The results of the voting, I was told, were one vote against holding general elections and all the rest for it. The only one vote was that of Yoweri Museveni, because the voting was by a show of hands, according to the report.My informer went on to say that the next day, other members of the Commission, including Paulo Muwanga, learned that Museveni was already in Dar-es-Salaam to meet the then President of Tanzania, the late Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere. Museveni reportedly asked Nyerere to use the Tanzania troops then still in Uganda to stop the holding of general elections as decided in Moshi and re-activated and reconfirmed by the Military Commission.The argument was the same; the revolution in progress. Nyerere reportedly declined to be persuaded by the ‘revolution’ argument. He allegedly made it very clear that he had no power to change the decision made by Ugandans themselves. Unsatisfied with Nyerere’s response, Museveni reportedly boarded a plane and headed for Mozambique to go and put his case before the late President Samora Machel.However, when he was airborne, the Tanzania officials, who saw him off at Dar International Airport, informed Nyerere that Museveni was proceeding to Mozambique. Nyerere reportedly telephoned Samora Machel immediately to give him advance knowledge of Museveni’s mission.In Mozambique, it was reported, Museveni put before Samora Machel a slightly modified version of his request. That the Tanzanian President had decided to pull out his troops from Uganda when Uganda had not yet had time to build its own army and that this would expose Uganda to the risk of being over-run by its enemies, including the just-chased Amin’s soldiers. Machel was reportedly requested to send four battalions of his Army to take care of Uganda’s security concerns until a new army was formed.Being a shrewd politician, Machel reportedly asked Museveni if he had a formal letter of that request from the Uganda Head of State, Paulo Muwanga. When the answer was in the negative, Machel concluded that it was only the Mozambican Government that could send troops to another country if there was a formal request, and not him as President, acting alone. Since there was no such a request, he had nothing to put before his Government for consideration.It was after this mission had failed that Yoweri Museveni returned home and hurriedly called a meeting of his friends and well-wishers to form a political party Uganda Patriotic Movement (UPM) for the purpose of participating in the 1980 general elections.What took place at the formation of UPM was even more interesting. When the election of office-bearers of the party was about to begin, Museveni allegedly came up with two conditions, which must be fulfilled before a member could be elected as president of that party:That person must not come from Buganda or from the North because these two regions had already had enough presidents. The person to be elected president of the new party must have his army, because Uganda was still at war.These two conditions eliminated everybody else, except Yoweri Museveni. Some UPC  members, who had turned up for the meeting expecting ‘juicy’ jobs in the new party stormed out of the meeting and went back to their party.Twenty years down the political path, it seems the thinking within the original UPM circle, now controlling the Movement, has not changed: it must be the same leader, come rain or sun-shine, and hence the slogan ‘no change,’ which sycophants in the Museveni faction of the Movement shout without any idea as to its meaning.(The Monitor, Tuesday, February 20, 2001)The author of this article was a Member of Parliament in Uganda’s sixth-parliament representing Chua County-Kitgum district in Northern Uganda      

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