Once a vocal and flamboyant MP and later minister, Aggrey Awori, has drawn less public notice since he was dropped in 2011 – and he knows who to blame for his plight.
It is, then, perhaps understandable that Awori should express indignation at suggestions that he is in bed with the man who allegedly brought him down. A former UPC stalwart, Awori told us on Monday that he has lived a “miserable” political life outside cabinet and he blames former prime minister Amama Mbabazi for his troubles.
Speaking openly for the first time about his “bad relations” with Mbabazi, Awori said he would never be part of any group working to promote Mbabazi’s presidential bid.
“All my political misery for the past four years has been because of Mbabazi,” Awori said. “Everyone in NRM knows that I and Mbabazi are not the best of friends in fact I have been celebrating ever since he was dropped [from cabinet],” Awori added.
Until 2007 when he was trounced by FDC’s Kevina Taaka in the Samia-Bugwe North by-election, Awori was one of the fiercest critics of the ruling establishment. After his defection to the ruling NRM, Awori was appointed minister for ICT but did not feature in Museveni’s cabinet after the 2011 elections. His exit from cabinet, Awori said, was the handiwork of the former premier.
“Even Museveni knows it, I can therefore never be associated with any group that promotes Mbabazi for any post be it president or anything within NRM or at the national level,” Awori said.
Awori’s name is on the list of 70 NRM losing candidates reported to be mobilising political support for Mbabazi. (See: We’ll support Mbabazi, say ex-ministers, MPs, The Observer, April 6-7).
On Monday, Awori said he did not know the group.
“I am not a member of that group and I have never attended any of its meetings. It would, therefore, be stupid for anyone to claim that I am part of a group that is campaigning for Mbabazi,” Awori said.
He also accused the former NRM secretary general of being the cause of the confusion in the party.
“I left UPC because of the internal confusion and joined NRM I have been politically comfortable until he [Mbabazi] caused this confusion we are experiencing,” Awori said.
Two of the group’s leaders Ronald Tumwine (National coordinator) and John Bosco Lubyayi (spokesperson) told The Observer separately that Awori was part of the group’s activities, though he was not active as his other former cabinet colleagues. The former ministers, Tumwine said, are some of the most vocal voices in the group.
“Records are there to prove his [Awori’s] attendance… he stopped coming after he was promised a job in government last year,” Tumwine said.
The most active ex-ministers, according to Tumwine are: Emmanuel Otaala (state for Labour), Simon Ejua (state for Works) and Nelson Gaggawala Wambuzi, the group’s national aisor. Lubyayi said he and Awori last spoke on phone on December 5, ahead of their meeting with President Museveni.
“I personally called him [Awori], and he gave his regrets that he would not attend the meeting because he was stuck in Busia,” Lubyayi said.
Gaggawala yesterday also denied being part of the scheme.
“I am a silent man [resigned], suffering with my debts,” Gaggawala said.
Asked about his aisory role in the group, Gaggawala was evasive.
“Being a flag bearer does not require me to campaign for so and so… ” he said.
Tumwine insists Gaggawala is part of the group, though he tactfully kept away from the April 2 meeting to avoid media attention.
“There are some members who didn’t want us to come out in the open because they are still optimistic that Museveni will come true on the job promises he made to them,” Tumwine said.
“There are some that had suggested that we wait until the campaigns kick off or when Mbabazi has publicly declared his intentions,” he added.
It is said that before the group met Museveni, they met Mbabazi at his palatial Kololo residence. At the time, Lubyayi said, the group met Mbabazi as the secretary general (SG) of the ruling NRM because “his presidential bid had not taken shape as it is today.”
Being members of the NRM national executive committee (NEC), the second highest decision- making organ, Mbabazi had hoped to use them to shoot down the proposed amendment of the NRM constitution to make his position appointive instead of elective.
Mbabazi had wanted to hang onto the SG job until the expiry of his five-year mandate in September this year. He also asked the group to fight for internal democracy in the party and to also speak against Museveni’s sole candidacy.
His wish did not see the light of day. He was outnumbered at Entebbe during the NEC meeting and at Namboole during the special national delegates’ conference.
ONE MAN’S PARTY
Interviewed for this story, Mbabazi’s sisterin-law, Hope Mwesigye, a former minister for Agriculture said she supports the group’s activities. She said the group members are entitled to their opinion and NRM should not witch-hunt them.
“I read that [Rosemary] Namayanja [NRM national treasurer] said that they should leave NRM does it now mean that when you support a person other than Museveni you then have to leave NRM?” Mwesigye wondered.
Namayanja last week told The Observer that the group members were free to leave NRM if they are dissatisfied with the party. Mwesigye said that such a statement clearly portrays NRM as a one man’s party.
Asked if Mbabazi had openly told the group that he would stand, Mwesigye said the former premier “would come out clearly at an appropriate time.”
Source : The Observer