Thirteen years ago in 2005, Col Fred Bogere, a quiet little-known army representative in Parliament, was cast in the public spotlight for refusing to vote for passage of the controversial legislation that lifted presidential term limits and effectively handed President Museveni a new lease on his political life.
That bold defiance of the army and ruling party position set him on a collision course with the establishment.
Bogere, now retired from the military, spoke candidly in a recent interview, about the aftermath of his action.
“There was too much pressure on me that I must come out and correct what they considered a mistake. I said I can’t do that. When I refused, the pressure intensified to the extent that my close friends and relatives were used. I got attacks from everywhere; external and internal,” he said.
He said he was summoned by the president and the late Gen Aronda Nyakairima, former chief of defence of forces. He said during the meeting with the president in Mbale, the head of state warned that Bogere and his “legalistic mentality would be neutralized.”
In the wide ranging interview, which will run in three parts, Bogere speaks about betrayal of the country by its leadership and how Uganda is teetering towards chaos and conflict as marauding gangs grab control over whatever is left of the state.
He says that what happened last year when the elite force which protects President Museveni, the Special Forces Command, stormed parliament, attacked and violently dragged out mainly opposition MPs, is the darkest moment in Uganda’s history.
“It was a terrible abuse of authority, it was a terrible insult to this country; I don’t think we can ever have a leading case of abuse of power than that one….” Bogere said. “There is no doubt the constitutional order was overthrown”.
“I don’t know whether it’s a military junta or what but what is available now is a coup.”
“I must confess that I felt betrayed and up to now I feel betrayed. You know we are not here to stay perpetually, the only constant is change and indeed it will come. Unfortunately, we squandered the opportunity of being part of that change. If change had come and it was attributed to the foundation work we had done, I would be a very happy person.”
See full interview in tomorrow’s print edition of The Observer.