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Mbabazi, family split over Museveni talks

Efforts to reconcile former prime minister Amama Mbabazi and President Museveni have caused sharp differences of opinion in the Mbabazi family, The Observer has learnt.

According to people close to Mbabazi, the reconciliation idea emerged barely four months after the February 18, 2016 presidential election, where the former premier came third – behind Museveni and FDC’s Kizza Besigye. In June last year, according to our sources, Mbabazi, also a former NRM secretary general, convened a family meeting to discuss his political future.

At the time, Mbabazi was reeling from his poor showing of barely  1.4 percent in the presidential vote, and was under evident strain because of his wife’s failing health. Jacqueline had been in and out of a UK hospital where she was rushed late in 2015 for cancer treatment.

During the family meeting, Mbabazi’s eldest daughter, Rachel Kiconco, suggested that her father makes up with President Museveni who she described as an “uncle” they have known for long.

Rachel’s suggestion reportedly drew sharp criticism, especially from her younger sister Nina, mother, and aunt Hope Mwesigye. The trio roundly rejected the suggestion. This was not surprising. At the height of the falling out between Mbabazi and Museveni, Jacqueline was more critical of the Museveni stranglehold on Ugandan politics than her husband.

At one point an MP and junior minister reportedly accused Mbabazi of “failing to control” his woman.

In weeks that followed last June’s meeting, Mbabazi accompanied his wife back to the UK hospital for review, around the same time Rachel reached out to Museveni with the suggestion of making peace with her father.

President Museveni (L) talks to Amama Mbabazi. Are they getting back together?

Museveni reportedly readily accepted Rachel’s suggestion and he tasked Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, his younger brother Gen Salim Saleh, and Archbishop Stanley Ntagali to explore dialogue. Museveni also reportedly promised Rachel a government job to reward her commitment to reconcile him with her father.

One source could not rule out the possibility that the two principals have already met secretly.

“What we understand is that he [Mbabazi] kept them [meetings] away from his family members because he knows that majority are opposed to them, he must have kept it to himself and Rachel,” said the source, who is quite close to Mbabazi.

“It is not possible that Rachel could go that far without Mbabazi’s knowledge, he was well aware,” a source said.


Dr Rugunda has not answered our repeated phone calls. Even questions channeled through his communications adviser Julius Mucunguzi have not yielded a definitive response.

Rugunda, an old comrade to both men, has been at the centre of trying to reconcile Museveni and Mbabazi since their 2014 public fallout. He once said that the toughest time of his political career was when Museveni and Mbabazi fell out, adding that reuniting them was in his best interest.

During the Christmas holiday, Rugunda represented Museveni at the thanksgiving service for James Zatwoshaho and his wife Joy, Mbabazi’s sister-in-law. In 2014, Museveni tried to go through Joy to persuade the former premier to return to the NRM fold. Both Museveni and Mbabazi had been expected to attend the party at Kikungiri Church of Uganda in Kabale.

It is believed that Mbabazi stayed away because of Museveni’s expected presence. In the end, Museveni sent Rugunda to represent him with a contribution of Shs 10m. Ntagali could not be reached for a comment.

An aide to Gen Saleh that we spoke to did not rule out Mbabazi returning to the fold. He told this writer that political reconciliation is Gen Saleh’s top priority. Asked what position would be offered to Mbabazi if he were to return, an NRM source said he could take back his PM job, the East African Affairs docket, or make up with the president but stay out of government. Mbabazi did not answer our calls but an aide ruled out the possibility of him rejoining cabinet.

“It is true they have been reaching out to him and he has been clear about his being open to talks about a political transition, not serving in government,” said the aide who preferred not to be named.

Mbabazi has been out of the public eye since last February. He made a rare appearance in December during the wedding of his former bodyguard Christopher Aine and also appeared at former DP Secretary General Mathias Nsubuga Birekeraawo’s funeral in Lwengo district, where he told mourners that his silence would end soon.

On that day, Mbabazi declined an interview with this writer, saying he would speak at “the right time”.


0 #11 Lysol 2017-01-07 03:26
Many conspiracy theorists, now believe that Mbabazi, never really left Museveni's NRM; and so was one Tinyefuza (aka Sejusa).

The two were sent by Museveni to go on a mission to neutralize the opposition ahead of the last presidential election. Tinyefuza was sent to neutralize the Diaspora oppositions and Mbabazi to neutralize those at home.

That is why we have never heard the two making noises lately like they did back then. Mbabazi, has not called any press conference about his political future since then and so is Sejusa.

It will not come as a surprise, if either of them go back to serving their master. Neither Mbabazi or Sejusa weere presidential materials anyway. No one would miss them.
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0 #12 ndore 2017-01-07 12:02
I am not surprised since Mbabazi never returned NRM party ticket.
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-1 #13 Robert Atuhairwe 2017-01-07 19:37
If Mbabazi ever wants to be President, the voter he needs most is Museveni.

reconciliation is equal to coalition
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0 #14 Lysol 2017-01-07 22:52
Quoting Wooden K.:
Hello everybody !

This is actually very simple ; why don`t we ask Eria Kategaya how these things work ?

He must know

You can't ask the dead, can you?
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-4 #15 Strive 2017-01-07 23:56
I doubt the authenticity of this article. Just a little sensational.

Please give us better material to read other than this nonsense.
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+1 #16 ndore 2017-01-08 13:16
shame upon the opposition section who backed his presidential bid. They now know whom they should have supported
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0 #17 Wooden K. 2017-01-08 16:30
Hello Lysol !

Yes Sir , the dead can talk . They have lots of power ; that is why even the most hated become "loved & honoured " as soon as they stop breathing and the blood clots.

Kategeya has a lot to tell Amama Mbabazi. He walked that road you see.
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-1 #18 Gwok 2017-01-09 01:25
Quoting Lysol:
Many conspiracy theorists, now believe that Mbabazi, never really left Museveni's ....

I am one of those "conspiracy theorists" [your own words],

Sir. I saw that in action when JAM tried to bring the opposition on his side.

If that had hapenned, JAM would have probably withdrawn fron running in that presidential race, thus leaving Museveni un-opposed. We saw to that, didn't we?
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0 #19 Gwok 2017-01-09 01:34
Quoting edo:
hmm. I think m7 needs amama cause of this icc question just...they will damp him after that

Sir, the ICC not yet told us its position regarding M7, beyond that " we are considering" statement that came out a few days ago.

Even JAM, and parhaps of other uweero bushmen as well, might be inclusively in that "we are considering"
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