As if somehow aware that he had no time, Amama Mbabazi began his last day as prime minister a little early.
He arrived at his office at the Twin towers buildings at about 8am. Security guards at the Office of the President gate and the adjacent Parliament gate found this unusual, as the prime minister often reported at 10am. It was business as usual until about 10am when an official statement came through, announcing Mbabazi’s sacking.
It turned out Mbabazi had gone to office early to prepare to hand over to Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, the new prime minister.
“He had scheduled appointments as a prime minister which he had to attend to,” Josephine Mayanja-Nkangi, the press secretary at the Office of Prime Minister (OPM), said on Saturday.
When some journalists learned that Mbabazi was in office, they marched from Parliament to his office hoping to get an interview from him. Their efforts were, however, frustrated by the police presidential guards (PPG) manning the entrance to the buildings. A scuffle ensued between the journalists and these officers for a few minutes.
Moments later, two security officers in plain clothes told the journalists that access to the buildings could only be approved by the Special Forces Command (SFC).
“Much as his [Mbabazi] security may be okay with people going to his office, the outer ring of SFC is under instruction not to let in anyone without authorisation from SFC,” a security officer said.
According to Nkangi, Mbabazi left office after 8pm, having shifted his belongings to his private office in Nakasero.
“His last appointment was at about 7pm and after that, he packed his things and took them to his private office,” Nkangi said.
Mbabazi went about his work in Parliament as leader of government business with passion last week. He gly contributed to the MPs’ debate on the Value Added Tax (Amendment Bill) 2014. Throughout the week, Mbabazi was active and amiable during the parliamentary sessions. In the session on VAT, a jolly Mbabazi cracked jokes with MPs throughout his presentation.
At one point, he told Parliament that in 2005 when Dokolo MP Okot Ogong declared his intention to run for president, he (Ogong) approached him (Mbabazi) to be his running mate.
“I accepted the offer,” Mbabazi said. He, however, added that when they went to Namboole stadium for the delegates’ conference, Okot Ogong’s name was nowhere on the list of candidates.
The MPs were left in stitches by Mbabazi’s humour. A smiling Okot Ogong rose on a point of order and added to the humour by telling the House that while he had chosen Mbabazi as his running mate, the premier was the leader of the NRM Central Executive Committee (CEC) that had decided to stop him from contesting against President Museveni.
“Is it in order for the Right Honourable Prime Minister to mislead the House when he has all the facts?” Okot Ogong asked, drawing more laughter from the legislators.
With such light-hearted banter dominating his presentation, few would have guessed that Mbabazi’s head was on the chopping block in a matter of hours. On Wednesday, Mbabazi presented a statement in the House about the Uganda – South Sudan border conflict in Moyo. During the prime minister’s question time, he promised to return on Tuesday [tomorrow] with the government’s response to South Sudan’s expulsion of foreign workers.
To some MPs, it was unbelievable that the all-powerful prime minister had been fired.
“In his letter, the president quotes the powers given to him by the Constitution but it would be better if the president gave reasons why he sacked [Mbabazi],” Buikwe North MP Onyango Kakoba said.
Both NRM and opposition MPs stood in groups on Friday discussing the development. Many were quick to recall Museveni’s reference to Daniel 5:25-28 during the September 9 NRM caucus meeting at State House Entebbe. Reading from the biblical book of Daniel, Museveni said that some people’s days were numbered.
“It is now clear that this is what he [Museveni] meant by that reference to the Bible during the caucus meeting,” an NRM MP said.
During the week that preceded his sacking, Mbabazi got involved directly or indirectly in activities that are said to have rattled the president. On September 10, several youth activists were arrested as they marched to the Constitution square. The youths, calling themselves Kampala Poor Youth Forum (KPYF), donned yellow T-shirts with Mbabazi’s portrait and inscriptions welcoming him as their new leader and president 2016-2021.
Later that evening, Mbabazi appeared at Namboole stadium as chief guest during a football match between Uganda and Guinea. Inside and outside the stadium, a number of football fans were seen carrying his posters or wearing yellow T-shirts with his portrait.
On September 15, Mbabazi told Parliament during debate on the motion for a resolution on the international day of democracy, that the Museveni sole candidate resolution adopted by NRM MPs in February was inconsequential. This followed a challenge from Opposition Chief Whip Cecilia Ogwal who claimed the ruling party was abusing the Constitution by ring-fencing certain positions.
“That was a resolution by a meeting, any meeting can make a resolution but that does not make it legally binding,” Mbabazi responded.
This statement and the September 10 events were interpreted differently by power brokers at Entebbe with some, according to a source, claiming that Mbabazi was planning to overthrow Museveni.
“The Namboole thing was exaggerated to make the president believe that indeed the man [Mbabazi] was planning a coup,” the source said.
Source : The Observer