Gen. Sejusa, Dr. Omara-Otunnu, Prof. Mousavi. Credit: Henry Gombya
Dr. Kizza Besigye won Uganda’s 2006 presidential election by a 69% landslide victory according to Gen. David Sejusa, who says he and other army officers were involved in stealing the election so Gen. Yoweri Museveni could remain in power.
Gen. Sejusa says there were two electoral commissions; the official one, and an unofficial shadow version operated by the military intelligence.
The actual election results from polling stations were first sent to the unofficial commission which then forwarded the doctored numbers, depriving Dr. Besigye of victory, to the official commission.
On Feb. 25 Gen. Museveni was declared the winner of the Feb. 23, 2006 vote. He has held power since 1986.
Anytime an African incumbent president is declared the winner by a 59% margin then you know “he’s lost,” Gen. Sejusa said, referring to the margin officially announced for Gen. Museveni.
Gen. Sejusa’s allegation was greeted by thunderous applause at the by-invitation attendees, at the launch of the Freedom and Unity Front’s (FUF) official manifesto, at The London School of Economics, in London on Saturday.
The opposition parties have long accused the regime of stealing the 2006 and other elections, including the 2011 vote. This was the first time that a senior Museveni regime official at the time publicly described how the system worked.
Gen. Sejusa was until earlier this year a Member of Parliament in Uganda and the east African nation’s coordinator of Military Intelligence services. He fled to London after raising questions about an alleged plot to assassinate military and political leaders who opposed a plan by Gen. Museveni to groom his son Brig. Muhoozi Kainerugaba as his heir. Gen. Museveni’s security agents raided Gen. Sejusa’s home and offices.
Gen. Sejusa also discussed Uganda’s interference in the affairs of neighboring countries. He alleged Uganda was involved in Kenya’s 2008 election violence and that Gen. Museveni, not only Kenya’s leaders should appear before the ICC. President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto are now being tried at the Hague for their alleged role in the deadly violence that accompanied the Kenyan elections.
Sejusa said Gen. Museveni had a falling out with the late John Garang, the leader of South Sudan’s liberation; the Ugandan ruler told Garang that he had to win the referendum that resulted in Sudan’s independence at all cost and that he was prepared to loan him two million Ugandans to help determine the outcome, Gen. Sejusa alleged.
Dr. Amii Omara-Otunnu, a professor of history at the University of Connecticut at Storrs, in the U.S., and author of several books, including on militarism in Uganda, presented FUF’s manifesto.
The organization describes itself as an ecumenical body –not a political party– meant to bring together all groups and parties dedicated to the removal of dictatorship in Uganda.
“We must all commit ourselves to an ethical approach to politics in Uganda,” Dr. Omara-Otunnu said. “The only approach that can save Uganda has to be ecumenical.”
Dr. Omara-Otunnu also offered a novel approach to eliminating the problem of election rigging in African countries: why not have an independent body from outside the individual countries, such as the African Union, conduct the elections.
He said many people had asked about the FUF’s position on violence. The question should not be about “the use of violence”; rather, the debate should focus on whether people already subjected to violence by the state, as in Uganda, have the right to use “counter violence” to defend themselves.
Oxford University law professor Kaveh Mousavi also spoke about how Gen. Museveni duped many international intellectuals and human rights advocates, including himself, through the years.
He disclosed that he had invited Gen. Museveni to Oxford years ago when he still remembered his promise of “fundamental” change, only to realize, later, that he was basically putting on a good act.
He said initially he had thought Gen. Museveni was the “antithesis” of Idi Amin, but turned out to have been the “apotheosis.”
He said Museveni “cynically” used the ICC to go after Joseph Kony, only to recently turn around and denounce the court as being “racially” motivated.
Prof. Mousavi offered Ugandans suggestions on how to forward evidence of corruption involving government officials, including Gen. Museveni’s family, to prosecutorial agencies in the U.K.
“Depart I say; it is time for you to go,” Prof. Mousavi said, offering a message to Museveni.
Many of the Ugandans clapped energetically whenever speakers spoke urged the need to abandon parochialism, in favor of nationalism and unity, to end dictatorship and to rebuild the country.
“Museveni has survived for long because of the division within all the opposition,” said Walter Odoch, who was a former military adversary of Gen. Sejusa.
An “ethnic based party” was incapable of defeating “the enemy,” he said. He also deplored the horrors of the camps in the northern part of Uganda where people were herded into “like animals.”
The gathering was temporarily interrupted when activist Monique Wyatt held up signs accusing Gen. Sejusa of committing genocide against the Acholi when he commanded anti-insurgency operations there. When Ms. Wyatt shouted at Gen. Sejusa to provide an answer, she was escorted out of the meeting, even though Sejusa stood up and asked that she be allowed to stay so he could respond.
Gen. Sejusa later apologized for any wrongs he may have been involved in and said Ugandans should unite to remove Gen. Museveni, after which a truth and reconciliation could be set up, after which it could even be determined if there are people who should go to prison.
Veteran Ugandan journalist, former BBC correspondent and now publisher of the London Evening Post, Dr. Henry Gombya offered a summation of Uganda’s long history of disruptive politics and violent upheavals from 1966 up to date, with condemnation of the abuse of Dr. Besigye by “thugs” in uniform.
Gombya saluted Uganda’s female activists and politicians, including Ingrid Turinawe and Doreen Nyanjura, who gained wide recognition when she was arrested for trying to launch a book critical of Gen. Museveni.
“We want to see Yoweri Museveni and his bunch of thugs gone,” Gombya said, to loud applause.
“I would like the FUF leadership today,” he added, “to leave the London School of Economics vowing to return power to the people.”
The meeting room was packed with members of the Ugandan community in London and professionals who flew in from all over the world, including the U.S., South Africa, kenya, Australia, the Netherlands, and other countries.
Dr. Alex Magezi, who traveled from South Africa lamented about the cost of tyranny in terms of the brain drain. He revealed that there are 4,000 Ugandan doctors working in South Africa and 600 in Lesotho.
The event was covered by media outlets such as Reuters, the BBC, The London Evening Post and The Black Star News.
The event was coordinated by Dr. Vincent Magombe, who also offered a slide presentation of images of Ugandan civilians brutalized by the regime’s military.
[More stories about the launch to come shortly]