BAPTISM OF FIRE: Dr. Otunnu Faces Deadly Coup


mind geneva; font-size: small; mso-bidi-font-family: ‘Times New Roman’;”>Hundreds of UPC youth say Otunnu’s poor mobilisation skills are pushing the party into a political grave. Thy locked the former presidential candidate out of his office at Uganda House, Kampala.

The enraged youth, who had earlier threatened to overthrow Otunnu, threw out all party officials and blocked access to the six floor where the office is premised.

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The gang took all the confidential files from Otunnu’s office in what appeared as a rehearsed raid.

A few months ago, Otunnu accused police boss Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura of channelling millions of shillings to instigate an internal rebellion in UPC.

Indeed, reports recently indicated opposition parties were being secretly funded by donors to start a huge revolution to oust President Museveni.

If the youth had links to Kayihura, then it could have been a plot to take away crucial evidence needed by security to foil opposition plans against government.

Nevertheless, Otunnu has for long been under enormous pressure to step down for not participating in the February voting exercise. Otunnu surprised the world when he fell short of even voting himself after months of campaigns.

The incident caused overwhelming collateral damage on the party president’s credibility. Since then, Otunnu has been fighting to save his political career amidst growing discontentment in UPC.

The Monday attack was expected, according to party officials.

The move underlines the growing frustration among youth in a party whose leadership is dominated by very old men and women.

Dr. Milton Obote’s son James Akena a few months ago turned up during a party press conference before hurling insults at Otunnu. Feeling embarrassed, Otunnu took off, leaving scribes choking on laughter.

The UPC offices raid is also a big test of Otunnu’s popularity at a time when the party is facing acute financial shortage.

Most administrators never have lunch and return home on foot. Matters have been worsened by the dwindling performance of UPC on Uganda’s political arena.

When Otunnu returned from exile last year, there was excitement in UPC, with many hoping he could woo President Barack Obama to cause regime change in Uganda. The death of this dream among UPC fanatics seems to be the reason behind the Otunnu coup.

The youth want UPC to recognise their works thus painting a picture of a hugely split party. They feel alienated in their own party. The struggle for space and recognition in UPC, if not contained, is likely to spark a full rebellion that could see Otunnu overthrown.

Party publicist Moses Nuwagaba has downplayed the raid but admits “this is a small issue that would have been solved long time ago.” Nuwagaba says the youth want recognition as a structure like in other parties and their anger is understandable.

He told media UPC National Council (NC) agreed during a meeting held in April 2011 in Mukono to form a youth league which Otunnu has ignored.

“This is the main cause of the problem because the youth see no commitment by the leadership. There is no party which can sustain without the youth”, he was quoted as saying.

It’s yet clear why Otunnu is hesitant to recognise the youth. Political pundits say a fully-fledged youth league in UPC would be the last nail in the political coffin of Otunnu’s presidency.


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