Uganda Presidential Aide Urged U.S. To Force Gen. Museveni to Accept Term Limits Before 2011 Election: Saw 49% of Vote for Museveni

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[Global: Uganda]

Says Museveni Would Win 49% of Vote: Feared VP Bukenya's Popularity

A ruling-party insider urged the United States to get his boss, Uganda's president Yoweri K. Museveni, to restore presidential term-limits, saying the general only listens to the U.S. and U.K., according to a memorandum to the State Department, by the American ambassador to the East African country, disclosed by WiKiLeaks.

The insider also said Museveni's political strategists believed he would win only 49% of the vote in the February 2011 election; this would have forced a runoff and increased chances of the general's defeat.

Ambassador Jerry Lanier's memo, classified "Confidential" was sent to Washington on September 21, 2009; the information was based on conversations with Mike Mukula, who was described by Lanier as a "disgraced former Ugandan Health Minister and current National Resistance Movement (NRM) vice-chairman for eastern Uganda."

Mukula is now a Member of Parliament in Uganda, representing the ruling party, from Soroti district. He was in the past imprisoned after being accused of diverting foreign-donor supplied funds to fight Aids and other diseases.

"Mukula urged the U.S. to pressure Museveni to reinstate presidential term limits," reads ambassador Lanier's memo. "He listed Somalia as an example of Museveni's efforts to remain indispensable to the U.S.  Mukula also speculated that Uganda's support to southern Sudan also enabled Museveni to preserve strong ties with the U.S."

Gen. Museveni is the only African president who has sent several thousands of soldiers to prop Somalia's weak U.S.-financed government; he was also a big supporter of Southern Sudan's independence move, again in line with U.S. policy. Critics contend he panders to the U.S. to blunt criticism of domestic human rights abuses.

The memo also reads: "Mukula said Museveni ultimately listens to only two countries - the U.S. and the U.K. - and urged the U.S. to pressure Museveni to reinstate presidential term limits. Mukula himself, however, hopes to run for president in 2016."

Additionally, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) insider told the American ambassador that Gen. Museveni had considered holding an internal party primary, to elect the NRM's presidential candidate for the 2011 elections, but ditched the plan when he realized his vice president, Gilbert Bukenya, could win the nomination.

"Mukula named Ugandan Vice President Gilbert Bukenya, an ethnic Baganda, as the NRM's most popular leader," reads the memo. "He said Museveni kept Bukenya on as his Vice President to keep tabs on Bukenya's potential presidential ambitions."

Opposition parties in Uganda have rejected the outcome of Uganda's February election, saying it was massively rigged in Gen. Museveni's favor by the state apparatus. The Black Star News in February published the results of the elections 24 hours before it was announced after an official involved in the rigging task force had passed the pre-determined results to this newspaper.

"Mukula conceded that northern and central Uganda would likely go to opposition candidates in free and fair elections," ambassador Lanier wrote, lending to the subsequent repudiation of the results by the opposition, when even these regions were awarded to Gen. Museveni by his hand-picked Electoral Commission.

Mukula also told ambassador Lanier that he had become Museveni's "fall guy" for the alleged corruption scandal involving the alleged stealing of $1.5 million from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) that in fact "most of the missing GAVI funds were used by First Lady Janet Museveni."

"When asked how he thought the 2011 elections would compare to the flawed 2006 presidential contest, Mukula said the 2011 elections would be much worse.  He said Museveni's re-election team believed Museveni would get 10 percentage points less than he received in 2006, giving him only 49 percent of the vote," ambassador Lanier's memo to the State Department reads.

The Electoral Commission awarded Gen. Museveni an implausible 68.38% of the vote.

"Mukula said the recent political moves made by Museveni - from pandering to ethnic Banyoro along Lake the recognition of the Rwenzururu Kingdom in southwestern Uganda and the decision to support the minority Banyala's quest for autonomy from the Buganda Kingdom ...were all designed to obtain the two percentage points needed to push Museveni from 49 to 51 percent during the first round of voting in 2011," reads the memo.

Mukula said the 2011 elections would be more "flawed" than the 2006.  He described the riots near Kampala in September 2009 as Uganda's 9/11. Due to the marginalization of other ethnic groups, in favor of Museveni's Banyankole, Mukula "warned of serious reprisals from groups long excluded from power."

A State Department spokesman yesterday evening declined to comment on the memo. A person who answered the phone at Uganda's Permanent Mission to the United Nations said a press official wasn't available and that no one else could speak with media.

Similarly, Mukula couldn't be reached for comment. Reacting to other WiKiLeaks memos attributing comments to him, about Janet Museveni and the president's son, he acknowledged meeting with Lanier but told Uganda's The Daily Monitor that the memos had "distortions."

Mukula, who was a strong operative on Museveni's relection team, according to the memo, also told ambassador Lanier the following:

[] That Museveni's ethnic Banyankole had "complete dominance" over the army, government, and business community.

[] That since Uganda was the only country without Presidential term limit, mistrust of Museveni by the other East African presidents was hampering the plans for regional political integration; and that while Raila Odinga, Kenya's Prime Minister, "keeps up a friendly public persona with Museveni despite extreme private distrust."

[] That even though there were rumors that Janet Museveni had presidential ambitions, she preferred to be in the backrgound and didn't have the "stamina and focus" needed to run a serious presidential campaign.

[] That while Museveni wanted to groom his son Lt. Col. Muhoozi Kainerugaba to succeed him, the son would be too young for the 2016 polls.

[] That the military had become Uganda's "fourth estate" treated by Gen. Museveni as his personal political party.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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