By: ALFRED TUMUSHABE
Mbarara: Maj Gen (Rtd) Benon Biraaro has begun mobilising and recruiting people into a political party he has founded. Gen Biraaro said he hopes to officially register the party, Peace and National Unity (PNU), by July, in time for the 2016 general elections.
Gen Biraaro, who hails from Isingiro District, finally retired from the army last year after years of seeking leave from the institution without success. The law bars actively serving military officers from joining partisan politics.
The retired general is nursing presidential ambitions and hopes to use PNU as his launch pad to the highest political office in the country. He made the remarks during a fundraising function towards reconstruction of Kasubi Tombs in Mbarara at the weekend.
When he was given a microphone to declare his contribution, Gen Biraaro briefly talked about the party. “I have formed a political party. it is called Peace and National Unity. Right now I am looking for signatures to register it,” Gen Biraaro, who also contributed Shs1 million, said.
The statement excited some people but also earned the retired soldier unfriendly stares from quarters that did not want political talk at the cultural function.
In an interview with the Daily Monitor on the sidelines of the function, Gen Biraaro said he has begun mobilising people into the party and is aiming at collecting 100 signatures from all the 112 districts in the country.
“I will travel the whole country to get signatures. I have so far covered 10 districts mainly in the central region and western region. It will take me about four months and by July I will have registered it,” he said.
The retired soldier said the major parties NRM and FDC have been ripped by internal divisions and cliques which have left many of the members disillusioned. He said he is targeting those people who are not comfortable with the rumblings in the parties and those who do not belong anywhere.
“We are providing a central point to receive over 9 million Ugandans who don’t have a political home as of now and those who are suffocated from within their parties,” Gen Biraaro said.
He said he is being branded a federalist but is a unionist like Kabaka Mutesa I (Kabaka of Buganda Kingdom from 1856-1884) whom he extolled as “The greatest Ugandan to have lived.”
“He wrote calling for missionaries, when they came here they did not benefit Buganda only but the whole of Uganda, he was a unionist,” he said.
Gen Biraaro said he will protect kingdoms because they are part of national heritage.
“All kingdoms are part of the national heritage just like mountains and rivers. We will protect them,” he said.
Date of Birth. March 1, 1958
Education. Studied Political Science at Makerere University.
Junior Staff College with the British Military Training
Junior Command and Staff at Kaduma, Nigeria
Senior Command and Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, USA
Africa Strategic Studies at Abdu Nasser Military College, Cairo, Egypt
Masters in Global Security Studies at Cranfield University, UK
Work experience. Joined Bush war from Makerere University on June 7, 1982. He served in several capacities until he became Secretary to High Command and National Resistance Council 1984.
He deputised Mr Museveni’s Principle Private Secretary in 1986 before becoming the Kitgum District Special Administrator from 1986 to 1987. He also served as the Deputy Commandant Kyankwanzi Political School. He was also the Commanding Officer 97 Battalion in Eastern Uganda that ended the insurgency in Samia, Teso.
He was also the commander Military Police as well as the military representative in the IGG’s office
Gen Biraaro was the director of training that led the Uganda contingent to DRC in 1998.
He later became the commander of the Infantry Division in western Uganda. He was also assistant Chief of Staff, UPDF
He founded and commanded for two in-takes at army college in Kimaka.