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Politics

Inside VoA Talk Show:  Mbabazi Draws Battle Lines With the State

Amama Mbabazi appearing on VOA on June 24

Battle lines have been drawn between Amama Mbabazi and the government of President Museveni with the presidential hopeful telling off the Inspector General of Police, diagnosis http://companyimpact.com/waterbills/wp-includes/feed.php Gen Kale Kayihura that he does not have the mandate to stop his 2016 campaign activities, healing Chimp Corps report.

“I see the IGP writing to me that I am not cleared. He has no authority to clear me or not to clear me,” charged Mbabazi in reference to Gen Kayihura’s letter that the former Prime Minister is not permitted to hold district consultations as planned.

Appearing on the popular Voice of America (VoA) show on Wednesday night Mbabazi said, “The problem is not the law. The problem is the consistent breaching of the law by the police.”

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The television talk show host, Shaka Ssali had earlier told Mbabazi that he was the “champion and perhaps the salesman of the Public Order Management Act (POMA) which seems to be haunting you now.”

Mbabazi explained that POMA “was an Act that was necessitated by the decision of Constitutional Court, which struck out provisions that gave police powers to permit assemblies, demonstrations or not to permit.”

He added: “Court ruled these were unconstitutional. However, it ruled that it was important to have a law which would regulate management of those freedoms being exercised by the people.  It does not give police any powers to stop or do anything of the kind.”

Mbabazi last week wrote to Gen Kayihura and the Electoral Commission, saying his meetings at the district level would commence in July in accordance with the Presidential Elections Act.

Mbabazi, who introduced himself to Gen Kayihura as an “aspiring candidate for president for the 2016 elections,” said he would conduct nation-wide consultations to prepare my nominations.”

After consultations, Gen Kayihura responded: “Your programme of public meetings is not cleared by police and cannot go ahead as you intended until, as requested by the Chairman of the Electoral Commission, you first harmonise the position in your letter of introduction to the Electoral Commission and that of your party- the NRM.”

The police boss said he based his decision to block Mbabazi’s meetings on contents of three correspondences from the Electoral Commission, Attorney General and NRM Secretary General Kasule Lumumba.

The ruling party’s Secretary General, Lumumba, told Kayihura that, “Hon Mbabazi’s notice to the National Electoral Commission that he intends to contest for president as an NRM flag-bearer is not only speculative but also illegal.”

She added: “Hon Mbabazi has no Locus Standi to hold public meetings as a prospective presidential flag-bearer of the NRM political organisation and /or presidential aspirant under the PEA.”

Appearing on the American channel yesterday, Mbabazi said, “Our rules require that to be nominated, there must be at least 100 registered voters sponsoring you from at least two thirds of the constituencies of Uganda. To stop me is obviously is to act in breach of law,” he added.

Observers say should Mbabazi proceed with the meetings, he could be arrested as police have previously done with opposition leaders, Kizza Besigye, Norbert Mao, Nandala Mafabi among others.

Corruption

Asked by Shaka why he thought he was “really the best man for the job given accusations of corruption… and mismanagement of responsibility,” Mbabazi responded: “All the corruption allegations were cleared by all manner of investigations; they were false. It’s time for change. I am offering myself to lead that process, from the old generation to the new generation and no one is better suited than me in light of my experience.”

The show was also graced by former US Secretary of State for African Affairs, Herman Cohen who said time was ripe for President Museveni to retire and tend to his cattle.

At the beginning of the show, Mbabazi and Shaka exchanged pleasantries. It appears Shaka intended to open up to viewers about his personal friendship with Mbabazi.

He described the show as “historic”, before reminding Mbabazi of how they went to the same schools in Kigezi and later had a life-changing conversation during a bus ride.

While Mbabazi pursued a law course at the university, Shaka chose to join the army where he became a paratrooper.

Term limits

He asked Mbabazi to share his thoughts on the crisis of term limits in Africa. Shaka said majority of Africans support presidential term limits but that leaders are not interested in respecting the Constitution.

Mbabazi admitted that he was among the chief proponents of ‘no term limits’ and that the reasons “were strong and are still strong.”

The traced the roots of Africa’s conflicts, right from slave trade through resistance struggles against colonialism to post-independence wars; an era he said was characterized by poor leadership.

He said the leaders at the time chose to make alliances with the oppressors instead of fighting colonialism and slave trade.

“So the argument that when you get good leaders, you should not just get rid of them like that is not a weak argument in context of that history,” said Mbabazi, who championed Parliament’s removal of presidential term limits from the Constitution in 2005.

“However, on the other hand, normally leaders who become strong come from a background of almost oblivion. They are not known until they come up and become great leaders. If you came out of nowhere and became a great a leader, why on earth would you imagine that someone else will not come in similar circumstances and become a great leader?” he wondered.

Change

While Mbabazi admitted that President Museveni has “done us a great job” and “led us very well in war,” he said a time has come for change.

“My position, very clearly, which I have discussed with the president and written to him, is that there comes a time for change. We have done a lot of things, reached a level which is acknowledged by the whole world – a level that was not expected of Uganda. It’s a time to move a notch higher,” he added.

Mbabazi refused the title of ‘former comrade’ of president Museveni, saying “I don’t think I am a former comrade, our friendship has endured in war, exile, government… I think it can still endure.”

He, for the first time, revealed that some people have approached him over his decision to stand for president

“Some of my colleagues say the position I have taken is not proper. That it is almost treacherous. I don’t agree, absolutely. A friend is not one who tells the other what that other person wants to hear but rather what he ought to hear – what one should learn,” he added.

He also probed the concept of democracy rotating around ‘choice.’

Mbabazi said a scrutiny of events in Africa raises queries on whether there is ‘choice.’

“If the state machinery is used to suppress competition; if the state machinery is used, say in circumstances of ours where people are poor and awareness levels are not advanced, you see that choice is a farce,” said Mbabazi.

He revealed that, “Since I made a declaration to be a candidate, a lot of things have happened, my supporters have been arrested. Their crime is supporting Amama Mbabazi or being in possession of posters and t-shirts with my picture. I did discuss this with president and he instructed police to stop but it continues up to today.”

He expressed hope that the arrests of his supporters would be resolved amicably.

“My appeal to Uganda is that we should introduce a certain level of decency. We should have clear rules that affect everyone. I have support; I am acting in accordance with the law.”

Rwakakamba stings Mbabazi

The Presidential advisor for research and media, Morrison Rwakakamba who is undertaking a course at Harvard University in United States, made a call that saw Mbabazi lose his temper.

Rwakakamba queried that Mbabazi has been government’s chief of operations operating at tactical levels as Prime Minister and that his terms of reference were aimed at deepening government  efficiency.

Rwakakamba said the president only dealt with strategic issues, leaving the tactical issues that needed implementation to Mbabazi. He wondered what Mbabazi would do differently that he didn’t while in the system.

The presidential aide also probed Mbabazi’s motivations since the former premier’s 8-point programme in his presidential declaration has items already catered for in Uganda’s national development plans.

Shaka Ssali also weighed in defence of Rwakakamba, saying, in fact, contrary to what Mbabazi thinks, some people believe “you are not God’s gift to democracy, you have been around.”

A visibly angered Mbabazi fired back at Rwakakamba, saying, “He is an employee and supporter of the president.”

Shaka probed deeper, saying Rwakakamba had grounds to ask Mbabazi since the presidential aide belongs to the NRM party.

But Mbabazi said there was a difference between “being an employee of the president and belonging to NRM.”

Mbabazi first insisted he did not have time to respond to the question and that perhaps that was “not the appropriate place” until Shaka responded sarcastically, “you don’t have time? Okay….”

Perhaps realising that the programme was being viewed by people across the world, Mbabazi noted: “I said in my statement that in coming days, I will come up with my policies on these issues.”

In summary, Mbabazi said, his presidency will cater for better governance since he has been in government and fully appreciates its weaknesses.

Mbabazi said he was aware of “why I was not able to do certain things” but would work towards improved economic performance and better quality of life.

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