Mbabazi Disarmed, Grand Welcome Awaits Museveni

The fall-out between President Museveni and his erstwhile Prime Minister took a dramatic turn yesterday as soldiers raided Amama Mbabazi’s home to disarm his guards.

And as Brigadier Leo Kyanda, the chief of staff of the Land Forces commanded the raid in Kololo, at the nearby Kati Kati restaurant along Lugogo Bypass,supporters of President Museveni were putting final touches on a grand welcome for their man at Entebbe airport tomorrow morning.

President Museveni has spent the last one week in the United States, where he attended Wednesday’s UN General Assembly session chaired by its new president Sam Kutesa.

A regular traveler, Museveni is often seen off by some cabinet members and security chiefs but rarely treated to a hero’s welcome. A ‘grand’ welcome is therefore believed to be aimed at thanking Museveni for sacking Mbabazi and expressing support for the president in the face of an anticipated challenge from his former confidante.

Sources said arrangements for the welcome party involved, among others, Richard Todwong, the minister Without Portfolio in charge of Mobilisation, and Singh Katongole, the deputy treasurer of the ruling NRM. Todwong confirmed yesterday that he was organising Museveni’s homecoming party. He however, denied that the welcome party has anything to do with the sacking of Mbabazi.

“We are just thanking the president for installing Sam Kutesa as president of the UN general assembly and for the many other great things he has done for this country,” Todwong said.

Asked about the timing, he said it was purely coincidental. Todwong said organisers expected thousands of supporters, a “sea of yellow” to throng Entebbe road.

Other sources, however, told The Observer that organisers of Museveni’s homecoming rally want to counter the pro-Mbabazi forces that have upped their activities in the wake of his sacking. Since Mbabazi was sacked last Friday, he has received messages of support from a group of youths codenamed John Patrick Amama Mbabazi Youth Network (JPAM).

The group, led by Adam Luzindana, the NRM youth league chairperson for Kampala, recently created a WhatsApp page, where they share ideas on how to popularise Mbabazi’s anticipated presidential bid. Yesterday, Luzindana posted on the page: “change is coming. Museveni will never be president of Uganda after 2016… He has no popular support. He only has the support of people like Gen Kayihura.”

Another member posted that Mbabazi will defeat Museveni if he contests in 2016 because he understands the NRM structures better than the president. At Kati Kati yesterday, Todwong, according to sources who attended the meeting, said supporters must show the president all the support when he lands at Entebbe tomorrow.

“We want to see you singing and shouting on top of your voices,” Todwong reportedly said.

Sources said that at least 2,000 cyclists are expected to form the convoy that will escort the president from the airport to State House, Entebbe. The convoy will also comprise vehicles and a couple of music bands, the sources added. Supporters will be expected to wear T-shirts with a portrait of Museveni.

The security arrangements of the day shall be coordinated by Felix Kaweesi, the police’s director of operations, who briefly attended yesterday’s meeting. At the meeting, a car dealer of Pakistani origin pledged to give Shs 10 million that will go towards the preparations for the welcome. Sources said Todwong was disappointed that not much money had been raised.

Museveni has not yet commented about Mbabazi’s sacking. The president started his tour of the United States and Canada on September 18, the day he sacked Mbabazi. On Tuesday, this week, Mbabazi told journalists at Parliament to ask the president why he sacked him.

Mbabazi disarmed:

This was after he appeared at parliament riding in a civilian registered vehicle but with his military escort intact. This however lasted until yesterday evening when BrigKyanda wentto Mbabazi’s Kololo residence with some soldiers to withdraw the guards. Family sources told us that there was a scuffle as Mbabazi’s wife, Jacqueline, engaged Kyanda.

Jacqueline did not take kindly to the operation. She was particularly irked that journalists had entered the compound and complained that this constituted trespass. Kyanda came with a contigent of UPDF soldiers and military police. They took positions inside Mbabazi’s compound and outside the gate as if they were anticipating resistance.

Kyanda’s men were joined by policemen who were being commanded by one Kassirabo, the commandant of the police’s VIP protection unit. Kyanda told journalists that he had received “orders from above” to withdraw the military guards from Mbabazi’s premises. Later in the evening, about five minutes after Kyanda and his team had left, Mbabazi drove in but did not talk to the journalists gathered at his home.

In the end, about 10 army guards were withdrawn from the leafy home and replaced with seven policemen.

Source : The Observer

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