Uganda: Museveni – Opposition Meet Angers Besigye

Former presidential candidate, Dr Kizza Besigye, is unhappy with members of the Opposition who met with President Museveni under the auspices of the Inter Party Organisation for Dialogue (IPOD) "posturing" to plead for him.

Dr Besigye, who faces treason charges after he swore in himself as president following the disputed February general election, expressed his displeasure yesterday at a meeting with Opposition senior leaders at Luzira Upper Prison.

"I am discontented with some of the things I am reading in the press. I saw members of the Opposition who went to Mr Museveni claiming to plead for me. How can anyone plead before the oppressor for my freedom? This is unacceptable," Dr Besigye told Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago and Kira Municipality MP Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda.

He shortly after thanked Mr Ssemujju, also the party's spokesman for speaking against the move by IPOD members led by Democratic Party's secretary general Mathias Nsubuga.

The team met Mr Museveni last week at State House Entebbe. Early this week, Mr Nsubuga said the meeting involved discussions on the status of Dr Besigye and Nakawa MP Micheal Kabaziguluka, who was separately charged for treason at the General Court Martial in Makindye.

The President is quoted to have said Dr Besigye, former coordinator of intelligence services Gen David Sejusa and MP Kabaziguruka were engaged in subversion and the courts would handle the matter.

At yesterday's meeting, Dr Besigye said he had told FDC's secretary general Nandala Mafabi to disassociate himself from the IPOD's efforts to "implore Mr Museveni to give me freedom".

Mr Ssemujju said the group was, "trading Dr Besigye's freedom for their own selfish agenda. They cannot trade the people's president with Museveni over tea."

The two leaders were given a maximum of 15 minutes each to speak to Dr Besigye after watertight security screening that saw Mr Lukwago at one point nearly lost his head when an officer asked him to loosen his belt so he check his under garments in a locked room.

The prison authorities have now spared two rooms for males and females with a curtain and wire mesh where Dr Besigye's visitors are ordered to remove their shoes, socks, belts and their inner clothing checked even after they have gone through the ordinary check points.

New visitors' photos are taken and inputted into a system designed to specifically handle Dr Besigye's visitors.

"Security matters are tighter now. Anything on Dr Besigye is beyond us," one of the officers pleaded with Mr Lukwago and Mr Ssemujju before confiscating this reporter's notebook for what the officer said was for censuring of the content.

Meanwhile, Nakawa Chief Magistrate James Ereemye Mawanda yesterday clarified his visit to Luzira prison was not specific to Dr Besigye but part of routine visits to detention centres under the Justice, Law and Order Sector (JLOS).

Mr Ereemye, who at Dr Besigye's last appearance in court vowed to visit his detention facility due to numerous complaints that his life was in danger, instead blamed the media for quoting him out of context.

But the trend of events leading to the visit appeared to indicate as much. By 9am, the magistrate and Judiciary spokesperson, Mr Solomon Muyita's phones were buzzing with telephone calls. Orders were given that journalists should not be allowed in.

When he arrived at Luzira prison at 10:25am, Mr Ereemye was led in with the Resident State Attorney, Nakawa who serves as the secretary of the district chain committee, an innovation under the JLOS to converge efforts by different actors in the administration of justice chain.

Mr Apollo Akankunda who represented the Commissioner General of Prisons, Dr Johnson Byabashaija, said in the impromptu meeting, "Please clarify because the perception out there is that you have come to see an inmate by the names of Dr Kizza Besigye."

Before he could finish his statement, the magistrate said: "No, we are here on a routine visit. We have another DCC meeting at the end of the month and we shall present a report, we visit all detention centres. Besigye has always complained and I told him I would come to Luzira and see the issues he was raising as part of the DCC mandate but not to see him personally."

But the conduct of the meeting gave a different picture. First, the regional prisons commander for Kampala, Mr Wilson Magomu, had to be called in abruptly by Mr Akankunda who persistently took calls from his handset.

The divisional police commander Jinja Road, Mr Moses Eliau Osega and Kira Road CID detectives as well as other prisons officers constituted the meeting.

Mr Akankunda told the magistrate that Mr Lukwago and Mr Ssemujju were pacing up and about and "are saying they have come for a court session".

The magistrate turned down attempts by the officers to ask the two politicians to leave, saying: "they are stakeholders in this and although they have other motives allow them in and I shall explain to them, this is a routine visit."

Source: The Monitor

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