KAMPALA, Sept 20 — Health minister Ruhakana Rugunda has been appointed Prime Minister of Uganda. He will replace Amama Mbabazi who has been the premier since after the 2011 general election.
President Yoweri Museven has forwarded Rugunda’s name to the Speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga, for parliamentary approval.
“I thank His Excellency for giving me this responsibility. I also thank Ndugu Amama Mbabazi for very good work as Prime Minister,” Rugunda said.
“I have served and I am ready to serve. My priority is to consolidate the achievements of government & focus on implementation of the manifesto and all Government, plus party programmes, that will lead to transformation of Uganda.”
Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, is one of the longest serving ministers in the NRM government and was chief negotiator in the botched LRA peace talks.
Alongside Francis Omaswa (Professor), Sam Kuteesa and Okello Oculi, among others, Rugunda was significant in the formation of the National Union of Students of Uganda, a politically vibrant youth movement which he also led (1970-71).
Rugunda created a platform where students got closer with the Obote I regime.
Together with his Makerere University comrades, Omwony Ojwok, Tumusiime Mutebile, Amama Mbabazi and Tim Lwanga, Rugunda also played a key role in the formation of Front for National Salvation (FRONASA), alongside Yoweri Museveni (current president), Nuwe Amanya Mushega and Eriya Kategaya.
FRONASA, a rebel outfit, fought alongside Kikosi Maalum and Tanzanian forces to liberate Uganda from the brutal Idi Amin regime; overthrowing it in 1979.
Because of his calm nature he was a natural choice to lead the government delegation to the LRA peace negotiations. While critics say the Kony talks failed others think otherwise.
“We reached an agreement on all issues, but when time came for Kony to sign the agreement, he chickened out. President Museveni had also travelled to sign it!” Rugunda says.
“The talks didn’t fail totally, because an agreement was reached, although not signed,” says Dr. Aaron Mukwaya, a political scientist and pundit.
“The issue is both parties didn’t want to reach an agreement of any sort. Both wanted, and still want, to have victory militarily. I doubt there is any enthusiasm to have Kony killed due to weaponry and logistics benefit by the army,” Mukwaya says.
Rugunda, nevertheless, defends the military offensives, which, he argues, were paramount. “There were some aspects of the peace talks that could be depicted as ‘peace jokes’,” he says.
“But it was right that we use both military and peaceful means to end the LRA’s banditry and heinous crimes against humanity meted on Ugandans and Sudanese. LRA wanted to take over power using the most brutal ways but met a resilient UPDF”.
After the Kony assignment, Rugunda was appointed Uganda’s representative to the UN and a member of the Security Council, charged with overseeing international peace and security in July 2009 and October 2010.
When Idi Amin overthrew Obote’s government in 1971, Rugunda opposed the new leader. “He tried to persuade us to support him, but we remained adamant,” says Rugunda.
A professional physician, Rugunda carries with him a wealth of medical experience spanning 10 years (1975-86) within which he published six papers.
He has worked as a medical officer in Zambia (1975-76), UN Institute for Namibia, Lusaka, Zambia (1976- 77), resident physician in paediatrics, USA (1978-79), deputy health minister (1979-1980) and Lecturer, Medical Training Centre, Nairobi, Kenya (1981-82).
Others are; department of paediatrics, Kenyatta National Hospital (1982-84), department of tropical paediatrics university teaching hospital, Sweden (1984-85) and animal industry, game and fisheries commissioner (1986) Rugunda has also served as President of the African ministerial conference on environment (AMCEN- 2002/3), and president, governing council of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP- 2003/4).
Since 1986, he has served as minister of health (1986-88), works, transport and communication (1988-94), foreign affairs (1994-96), information (1996-98), Presidency (1998-2001), water, lands and environment (2001-3), internal affairs (2003-9), Information and Communications Technology (2011-13) then Health Minister.
SOURCE: NEW VISION