Col Kizza Besigye has watched the conflict between President Museveni and Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi with keen interest.

In an interview at his Kasangati home on Monday, Besigye told Sadab Kitatta Kaaya about his own struggles with Museveni and why Mbabazi wants the presidency now.

Relations between Amama Mbabazi and President Museveni are strained because of the former’s perceived ambition to run for president. Did you ever envisage this?

I think at the end of the day, Mr Museveni will fall out with every person who was a historical member of NRM. Certainly, the central issue that we fought for, many of our colleagues died for, was to have a democratic transition in our country.


Museveni has been manipulating sections of our people; he has never been truthful with anyone about his intentions of being a life president, but I detected [this] way back that he was on a totally different mission. First of all, him being powerful, he not only persuades but intimidates members into thinking that maybe they should not risk causing a serious problem; that they should massage him out of the positions he holds.

In 1999-2000, when we fell out publicly, because for me, I had a [complete] fallout in 1989, people then believed that he could leave after the last constitutional term [2001 – 2006]. And I told them that he was going to change the Constitution. They didn’t believe it, even those that believed it wanted to hang on until they were sure that he abrogated the Constitution.

Some people fell out in 2006 after [the 2005 Constitutional amendment]. He then deceived others; he [called] them privately and [deceived] them, that he [was] actually not interested in continuing but he wanted a smooth transition, that he needed to professionalise the army that any other person would manage.

That [was the explanation] he gave for removing term limits and continuing for another term. So, some people hung on especially those that thought that at some time, he would anoint them to succeed him.

Mr Mbabazi was of that mind, that he could be anointed. He chose to express himself with maximum loyalty to Museveni, work hard for him, be patient and get anointed. That hope has completely faded. I think when the whole thing of professionalisation of the army came and passed, then he started the East African Federation [which has also] passed… I think they lost hope, many of them even realised that age was going to catch up with them; that is why people like Mbabazi are becoming a bit more proactive.

With the NRM house evidently on fire, how does the opposition hope to exploit the situation?

Well, we don’t have to do anything specific. Our primary interest is not the NRM leaders who are disappointed. Our interest is the population they are confusing, that is the population we are actively engaging and want to bring on board. We are also not dismissive of the frustrated or disappointed leaders of NRM who have woken up to the reality that Museveni wants to be a life president.

You have previously claimed to be in talks with all progressive forces interested in bringing change in the country. Is Mbabazi part of the forces? Do you have a role for him in the opposition? Can he be accepted as a presidential candidate?

No, our project now is not elections because we cannot have elections when there is no system for a free and fair election. For anyone to join us, [it should not be] for electioneering; we want people to join us so that we dismantle the system and restructure it. After that, we can have free and fair elections and that’s when anybody who wants to be a candidate can choose to be a candidate or join whatever party they wish.

If Mbabazi wanted to join FDC, that is his business… it is up to those who are leaving NRM to choose where they want to go but certainly I don’t expect that they would have a special status anywhere in the opposition, they would simply act like any other member[s] of the opposition. Additionally, there is a lot of concern on the part of Ugandans especially those who are in the opposition about the allegations of atrocities, crimes of mega corruption that some of the people that have been in NRM for so long are associated with.

Our view is that in the phase of the struggle, we welcome everybody, after the struggle, we believe there should be a truth-telling justice and reconciliation process in which whoever has complaints against any of us, should bring them so that they are resolved once and for all. By joining the opposition, there is no amnesty, except that they are welcome to participate in working for change.

What is your take on David Sejusa’s decision to flee the country, and are you in touch with him?

What I think about his fleeing is that whoever has served the regime has realised how it has become dangerous to our country.

I understand how the running not only from the country but also from the government comes about. Recently I was hearing Hon Bakoko Bakoru who was a minister of Gender here, talking from somewhere in exile, explaining the fears that forced her to run away. I understand what happens to servants of a rogue regime like NRM who feel insecure for whatever reasons and seek safety elsewhere.

In the case of Sejusa right from the time he went, he declared his intentions to make sure that such a regime is stopped; that he is ready to work with whoever is doing work to remove the regime and to have a transition to a democratic dispensation. He is certainly welcome to the struggle and I have talked to him whenever I have an opportunity to talk to him. Even now [I have been talking to him].

He is a Ugandan, he’s been in the struggle with us for a long time, and there is no reason why we should not work together to solve the problem here. And the statements he puts out; I have not followed all of them but the few that I have read, I think are perfectly legitimate for him to make. I don’t have to agree with all that he says but they are perfectly legitimate for him to make.

What do you talk about?

How we can work together, how we can have a synergic relationship in whatever is being done, and of course, he has been the coordinator of Intelligence [services], he has a lot of information which we also need in whatever we are doing. There is a lot that we need to share.

We heard that Sejusa was part of the group you worked with before you publicly fell out with the regime in 1999. But somehow he (Sejusa) got back into the fold. Would you trust him this time round?

We had never worked on the same project before 1999. We had a lot of discussions with [NRM] historical members, we met many times, in many places to discuss the serious problems that had cropped up in NRM, and he was not one of them. And I believe maybe he was not even interested at that time.

My trust or lack of trust in him would not hinge on whether we had talked or not because we hadn’t. Secondly, in this struggle, just like Mao Zedong said; there are three constants, constant mistrust, constant mobility and constant vigilance.

There is no reason why I should trust anybody, him or others who I am working with, but that does not stop us from working together except that I must [be] very alert. But we have to work together, and I will only have a problem if I see some unhelpful actions.

Taking you back a little... How come you hung in there, joined the Constituent Assembly (CA), and only came out publicly in 1999?

It was not by choice, I was a member of the UPDF, I was a colonel, it is not easy to walk out of military service, and I applied to retire from military service in 1995, [but] I couldn’t be let to retire. In fact in 1999 when I wrote that document, I had decided to take leave from the army pending retirement. I had already been on leave for one year pending retirement which had been denied and I was only helped by that document that stirred up things until I was eventually released.

Assuming you got the electoral reforms demanded, would you offer yourself for president? If not, who would you support?

We have not reached the stage of considering at all the issue of candidature because that would deviate or distract us from the struggle at hand. The struggle at hand is about having a new system of elections in this country and it is a major struggle because Mr Museveni will not accept it easily, because he will never accept a system that takes him out of office. So we have a big job to rally everybody together to force a change in the system of management. It will not come on a silver platter.

How do you expect to achieve this in a country where the inspector general of police is actively involved politically, infiltrating your ranks…

That is standard of any dictatorship. It would be a miracle if they were not doing that.

It does not take away the fact that by doing all that, it becomes even more unpopular. Because the money they would be using to extend services to the wider population to provide medicine in the hospitals, to provide quality education, infrastructure, investments that would create jobs [is instead used] to hire and rent a few individuals whom they think have some influence over the others.

But as they do that, the popular anger and discontent mounts and for us, our allies are not these people who can be bribed, our allies are the ordinary people who are the victims of the patronage system. They are the ones who will really change this regime and that is why the campaigns that we call for, even the one we are undertaking now, seeks to get the ordinary person to become active. [We want] to have active citizens everywhere to rise up and demand the changes we want to happen.

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-3 #1 Wadada Rogers 2014-04-23 01:12
Am shocked even Besigye believes there is a rift btn Museveni and Mbabazi. Truth be told, Mbabazi has always wanted the chair but he is too loyal to dare his boss.

This ambition has always been evident in the way he handled the NRM conferences as if they were a family business. For those who dont know the politics of this country, Mbabazi rules this country from behind the scenes.

Museveni once said he does not know why many NRM supporters hate Amama yet the guy is too loyal, intelligent, sober 24/7 and works like a horse. Indeed without him NRM is dead.
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+12 #2 Bulemezi 2014-04-23 02:47
Mbabazi is getting too old to lead Uganda, hence the hurry. He too is similar to his Master if not worse. Let him retire as well. God save Uganda.
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+13 #3 ssesanga 2014-04-23 08:09
Brilliant answering..Dr Besigye you are my hero..i don't mind what others will say of you.
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+9 #4 naboma 2014-04-23 10:51
Wonderful, intelligent ideas Dr Besigye-aluta continua!
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+8 #5 Bayomba 2014-04-23 11:48
When you read and analyse this interview you will find there are a lot of hidden messages that Besigye is sending out to potential converts in the police, army and NRM.

Below are some that i managed to decipher;
•You’re all welcome,

•It is not too late to join the struggle,

•You can join the struggle and keep your current job as long as you give us inside info,

•We’re not going to hold to account for you transgressions, there will be a time for reconciliation,

•There are many of your friends who are already with us who you do not know about,

•Time is quickly running out for peaceful means,

•I may stand for presidency in future,

Fellow readers please add to this list
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+9 #6 Kule 2014-04-23 12:32
A very intelligent man, a nationalist and a true Ugandan. Dr. Besigye, in you, we have hope.
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+8 #7 wodkoch kurabal 2014-04-23 12:45
'There is no reason why I should trust anybody, him or others who I am working with, but that does not stop us from working together except that I must [be] very alert.

But we have to work together, and I will only have a problem if I see some unhelpful actions'
Ladit Daktar Besigye quite understands the environment he operates in & the nature of people involved!

His survival absolutely is contingent on it. I wish him all the best as he sacrifices so much to free Ugandans from the clutch of a facist egomaniac dictator & his minions.Aluta continua!
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+8 #8 kisambira paul 2014-04-23 13:00
I want to thank Dr kizza wrn for the good ideas he has and that can help to stir our country at peak.I have several time watched the televised program on UBC when he was still with mr m7, but for sure we are missing an idealogical person in leadership.
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+3 #9 jose 2014-04-23 14:44
Really if we had 10 people of Besigye type this country would be paradise, the courage, strength, n love for his citizenry aaah God should guide us
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+1 #10 Suleman 2014-04-23 18:55
Thanks Dr.It is always goog for you to give such interviews so that you show the difference between you and Museveni &co.It is important for young Ugandan to know that this country is endowed with brilliant people and that it would be far if we did not get Opportunists,or gun weilding underdogs who have wrecked her.

Young Ugandans should be inspired to take the baton from Besigye &co.
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-4 #11 Omuzira NTE 2014-04-23 19:20
If Dr. Besigye still counts himslef as solution to this country and fears to mention that he left Gen Muntu as FDC Presidential candidate then the only difference between Museveni and Besigye is that one is not power and that is why the population doesnot trust the opposition either.

Being a civilian Lawyer Hon Mbabazi may pass the test that failed military turned Doctors & lawyers (Besigye, Tumukunde & Tinyefunza).

Politics is not about flexing muscles but how you strategically place yourself to be the next alternative. For now few people like Mbabazi but when he succeeds in his diplomatic approach, he will surprise many as people will vote for him just to have a smooth transfer of power without revenge, the very fear that people have in Besigye.
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+2 #12 nyakayirima 2014-04-24 06:39
M7 is a selfish self-centered individual who uses terror and control to manipulate. M7 has now since disenfranchised Mbabazi, but truth is everyone is tired, betrayed and powerless!

Mbabazi has felt what people like Besigye, and many opposition people and many of us poor Ugandans have been feeling for so long! Oppressed

I believe Besigye has always clearly echoed these issues. To me, he has what I would expect from a true leader. To me, Mr.m7 has never come across as a sincere individual.

Whether people like him or not, Besigye will be crowned Uganda's true liberator, He will be the Mandela of Uganda, while M7 will downgrade into a "traitor of his own people" and culminate into the Gaddhafi of Uganda.

Remember , you reap what you saw. Whoever, lives by the sword, will die by the sword! Matt. 26:52
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+4 #13 Joseph Katuramu 2014-04-24 09:38
The retired colonel has remained a firebrand! You dont have to agree with him, he has always remained spot on, steadfast, consistent and visionary!

That is why he remains my number one Political leader in the Country.
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0 #14 Patricia 2014-04-24 19:25
This is not related to the above story i am just musing at M7 being terrified of envelopes that he himself routinely hands out. A little girl tried to give him him an envelope and am sure when he stood up there was a wet spot on his pants after peeing himself.
Dictators are the biggest cowards. That should have shown him that when its time,not even 20,000 'elite" personal guards commanded by your own son can save you.
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