Kayira Speaks From Grave?

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[Op-Ed: Second In A Series]

It started as a simple day of going to the grave of the late Dr Andrew Lutakome Kayira by a group of ardent fans. They also happened to be supported by the Democratic Party (DP), once Uganda's second largest political party after the Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC).

While the DP now holds third place in Uganda's politics, after its historical place was taken by the Forum for Multi-Party Democracy (FDC), events in the last couple of weeks seem to have awaken a sleeping giant. The master stroke was simple. Irritate President Yoweri Museveni by reminding the world that he may have been responsible for the assassination of a political opponent.

Since Museveni shot his way to power in 1986, there have been many unexplained killings of people who one would identify as being rather unsympathetic to his regime. This trend, one may argue, may be seen to have continued since Idi Amin came to power in 1971.

The killing of Dr. Kayira in my house almost 20 years ago—The list of those killed is too long to mention here. But people like Bakulu Mpagi Wamala, Lutta Muganzi, Kyobe, Magala 'Proof', Kalampenge Musisi, Amigo Musisi, Captain Kaggwa, Ahmed Sseguya, to mention but a few, died mysteriously and no one has ever raised a finger as to how they died.

All those have been silenced but Dr. Kayira may turn out to be as hard to trample on in death as he was in life. For 20 years, the Ugandan government has played a game of utter silence or passing the buck whenever one mentioned Kayira's assassination. Most government officials passed the blame to his host that day.

At the same time, they tried to blame what they usually call 'rogue' elements within the Uganda Freedom Movement (UFM). When I fled Uganda a week after Kayira had been murdered, I explained that I could not continue with my life in Uganda as the state was not in a position to guarantee my safety. I had come to this conclusion after paying a visit to the then Minister of Internal Affairs (responsible for the country's internal security) Dr. Paul K Ssemogerere who told me: "Henry there is nothing I can do. The President (Museveni) has ordered me off the investigation in Kayira's death. It has now been passed on to Dr Kiiza Besigye (then Minister of State for Internal affairs).�

Politics is indeed a dirty game. While everyone is scratching his head over who killed Dr. Kayira, the leader of Uganda's official opposition party has not come out to explain what he knew or found out about this heinous crime. If he was asked to lead the investigation, what did he find and who does he think is responsible? How wonderful it would be to know what he has in mind.

At the moment, the so-called Scotland Yard report must be the most sought after document in Uganda. Everyone would like to read it for themselves. In earlier version that have appeared anonymously in the defunct Uganda Confidential, it was made to suggest to many that this writer may have been responsible for his friend's demise.

After all, didn't the report say Gombya had recently recieved money on Kayira's behalf from UFM supporters in America and when the poor man Kayira came out of prison he demanded his money and Gombya didn't have it? But hasn't the same so-called report say Gombya had an enormous amount of money in his house? If so and he owed money to Kayira, why kill him instead of giving him the money already in the house?

Then there is another argument. It was a robbery. UFM rogues knew their boss had money that day. So they quickly arranged to rob him of this money and kill him at the same time! Let's look at the first hypothesis that UFM's American sympathizers donated money to UFM and handed it over to Gombya to pass on to the movement. Would it be normal that for 20 years these donors have kept quiet and said nothing or tried to confront Gombya who lives in England? As for the second theory that it was UFM robbers—one wonders why a movement's leader can be robbed and killed by men he has led for many years through a very unkind bush war during which time they have never made any attempt on his life.

Pressed by Ugandan newspapers to name Kayira's killers, I insisted that I did not know who pulled the trigger but added that since leaving Uganda, I have spoken to many ex-fighters who have all pointed an accusing finger to a former UFM Muganda fighter now a Brigadier in the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF).

Now there are quite a few Baganda brigadiers in the UPDF but isn't it interesting that only one of those, Kasirye Gwanga Ggawaleggabi has come out to robustly deny he is the one? While all the other brigadiers have said nothing, Ggawaleggabi has come out to say: "Kayira deserved to be killed. He was responsible for the deaths of many of our fighters in the bush. He was not even a good leader!" If the Uganda police were looking for a motive for Kayira's killing, do they have to look far?

While in the beginning the Ugandan government made it look as if this writer was responsible for the demise of his friend, it is the same government that said yesterday that, and quote: “In fact Gombya is not a suspect in this case but a principle witness as the killing took place in his home."

What has made the government change its mind? Does it mean that pressure from the opposition parties and Western countries has finally rattled Lt. Gen Museveni? And would the government have changed its mind if the country was not about to host one of the world's most respectable Heads of State, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II?

The fact now is that President Museveni has indeed been outmaneuvered by the opposition. As pressure mounts as to who killed Kayira, the unexplained killing of other people during Museveni's long stay in power will slowly but surely surface. Museveni will never be free until the truth is told. 

Publisher's Note: Gombya worked for the BBC at the time of the Kayira murder. He has since been exiled from Uganda.

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