South Sudan

Machar: I’ll Return When My Troops Are in Juba

Machar told president Museveni about his commitment to peace in South Sudan during a meeting at State Lodge, Masindi recently

After days of speculation on whether President Museveni would make it to the presidential debate, seek the NRM candidate on Saturday night gently walked into Kampala Serena Hotel for the much-anticipated discussion.

The event was significant as this was the first time in the history of Uganda that all presidential candidates met for a conversation on issues that affect the nation.

Having missed the previous debate which he described as a ‘speaking competition of school children’, generic Museveni’s arrival received an ovation from the crowd.

Outside Kampala Serena Hotel where the function was held, and cars sped along Kampala streets with many rushing to catch the show on their television stations.

Others gathered in bars in Kampala suburbs for the live broadcast of the historic debate.

Observers looked forward to listening to Museveni’s excuses of missing the first debate which was centred on domestic problems affecting the common man.

“I am here to talk about Uganda, not fiction,” said Museveni in his opening remarks at the plush hotel whose air conditioning system was at its worst.

“If you want a Nobel Prize in Literature, then you can talk the way you want. Talk about Uganda as it is, not as it should have been, because it wasn’t,” he added, following a shelling from rival candidates who had earlier argued that Uganda would not realise permanent stability without good governance.

Before Museveni spoke, his former premier Amama Mbabazi said, “Uganda may not be at war but certainly we are not secure. We’ll never be truly secure until we have attained good governance.”

The ousted NRM Secretary General further punched holes in Museveni’s traditional claim of restoring peace and stability in Uganda: “Peace is more than just not having conflict in your country. What security do the Karimajong enjoy when they starve to death?”

Prof Venansius Baryamureeba had as well said the country needed serious investment in the education sector to build a skilled nation.

The FDC strongman Dr Kizza Besigye was not mincing words. The former State Minister for Internal Affairs was brutal, reminding his former boss in the NRA guerrilla war about the latter’s statement that the Problem of Africa is leaders who don’t want to leave power.

Retired Maj Gen Benon Biraaro had as well condemned NRM’s diversion from its core objectives of the bush war, saying the agenda was later ignored.

Museveni shaking hands with Besigye as Kyalya looks on

Museveni shaking hands with Besigye as Kyalya looks on

“We set out with the goal of respecting and winning people’s hearts and minds, but later on another seed came in,” said Biraaro.

In brief, almost all the candidates, save for the comic Joseph Mabirizi who delayed to attend the debate, had ganged up against Museveni in the opening minutes of the function.

The debate was moderated by Makerere don Suzie Muwanga, Joel Kibazo and VoA talk show host Shaka Ssali.

As expected, the attention shifted to President Museveni, the man who led 27 men in 1981 to a guerrilla war that later climaxed in 1986 with him seizing power from Milton Obote and the Okello Junta.

Clad in a black suit, Museveni appeared perturbed by the politicians’ rhetoric. Some observers expected him to react angrily to the accusations given his record of blasting opponents.

The presidential candidates attending a debate in Kampala on Saturday night

The presidential candidates attending a debate in Kampala on Saturday night


“Some people in Uganda say not having war is not peace. But that’s a step forward. We do not have war because we defeated all those who tried to bring war,” said the President as the audience cheered him on.

“Finally, democracy is about support. If you don’t have it, you don’t win,” he assured his rivals as the country prepares for elections on February 18.

Candidates delved into regional insecurity which Museveni attributed to promoters of sectarianism.

On the deployment of troops in Somalia, Biraaro said UPDF’s role was to provide the country with the nucleus of taking care of their own security.

“We need to set time limits to our operations and advise those we are helping to resolve their conflicts,” he argued.

Besigye argued that in principle it was not a bad idea to help neighbours but that the problem is “how we do it.”

Kyalya was seated next to president Museveni

Kyalya was seated next to president Museveni


He said Museveni was wrong to deploy in DRC without mandate of Parliament.

In response, Museveni said Uganda intervened in Congo to defend herself.

“They were harbouring our enemies for a long time under Mobutu (departed Zairean leader). There was NALU. ADF came in. We defeated them. Those who went to Hague I don’t know why they didn’t win the case. Nobody can play with security of Uganda when I am president of Uganda,” he added to reassure citizens about the country’s security.

The debate was trending worldwide on social media platforms with the hash tag #UgandaDebate being the second most popular on Twitter.

Ugandans took to Facebook and Twitter to share their experiences as candidates articulated their positions on foreign policy, peace, citizenship and regional integration.

Museveni arriving at Kampala Serena Hotel

Museveni arriving at Kampala Serena Hotel


Regarding the International Criminal Court (ICC) whose perceived bias has lately angered African leaders, Abed Bwanika said Uganda should have pulled out of the Rome Statute “by yesterday because it’s being used to specifically  attack African leaders.”

Museveni, whose views about the ICC are common knowledge, used the platform to expose the Hague-based institution as a tool of western interests.

“Uganda should leave ICC because it’s partisan and biased. We have lost interest because of this. The way to go is to have our own African Criminal Court. It was a mistake working with ICC which had its own agenda,” regretted Museveni who actively rooted for the formation of the court.

He used the example of Zabron, an NRA soldier who was shot in the bush war for killing innocent people.

Despite protests from Jim Muhwezi that it was the beer to blame for the killings, Museveni insisted on shooting the soldiers which he said built the reputation of the rebel outfit.

Besigye consults with Byanyima during the show

Besigye consults with Byanyima during the show


On integration, Mabirizi tickled the audience when he said Uganda “cannot enter the EAC if we can’t do what our neighbours are doing, like restoring term limits.”

Besigye argued that, “We cannot have integration when we don’t even have a language that unites us and there is no effort to that effect.”

Museveni in response said regional integration is important for strategic security and market for locally produced goods which enhance economic growth.

“In 1986 we were producing 2 million litres of milk. Today its 2 billion litres and we consume 800 million litres. Where would you sell the rest if we didn’t have the regional market?” wondered Museveni.

Still on the economy, Biraaro said he would inject Shs 3tn to boost agriculture- a source of livelihood for majority Ugandans.

Citizenship was equally a hot subject with Bwanika calling for a law that allows Ugandans abroad to run for elective positions back home.

Mbabazi expressed sadness that Ugandans living in foreign countries have to pay entry and visa fees on arrival in their country.

“This is ridiculous and has to end. Ugandans anywhere should be able to enjoy the benefits of being Ugandans, no matter where they are,” he charged.

IT professor and ex Makerere Vice Chancellor Baryamureeba revealed that Ugandans who left the country in the 1970s are among the richest in the UK.

“We need to attract them as investors.”


There were moments of tension especially when Museveni fell short of completing his submission within the provided time of two minutes.

He asked for more time to conclude his point only for Shaka Ssali to exhibit discomfort at this proposal.

A U.S. trained paratrooper, Shaka is a known critic of President Museveni especially on his VOA talk shows.

“Ok, they don’t want me to speak. It’s okay,” said Museveni after reading Shaka’s body language. Muwanga reigned in on Shaka, saying as a moderator, she had powers to extend Museveni’s time.


The 4-hour debate concluded with remarks on oil. Museveni said oil in the Albertine region was discovered by his government which sponsored scientists to study the natural resource.

Besigye chipped in, saying the oil was discovered long before Museveni took power.

This argument ended with Museveni saying the British colonialists said in a report in 1950s that there was no oil in Uganda.

According to Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, oil seepages along Lake Albert have been well known to local communities for generations.

British explorers made the first formal references to oil in the late 1800s. Some exploration began near the fishing village of Kibiro in the early 1900s, but was halted with the outbreak of World War I. In 1925, E.J. Wayland, director of the Geological Survey for the Uganda protectorate, mapped out indications of oil in the country to help re-spark exploration interest.

Mbabazi listening to speakers at the debate

Mbabazi listening to speakers at the debate

In 1938, the Johannesburg-based African European Investment Company drilled the first exploration well, Butiaba Waki-1.6 However, progress in the oil industry chilled again with the start of World War II.

Following Uganda’s independence in 1962, political instability and civil war continued to dissuade many investors, but the largest hurdle facing international oil companies was overcoming the operational challenges and costs of exploring for oil well over 1,000 kilometres inland from nearest major port at Mombasa, on the Kenyan coast.

Uganda’s concessions run across a narrow but long track of territory on the eastern shores of Lake Albert, beginning in the northwest near South Sudan and running 500 kilometres south on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The 1970-80 politics in Uganda hindered the oil industry’s advancement. The National Resistance Army of Yoweri Museveni overthrew the Obote government in 1986. The oil industry came to a standstill for five years after the newly sworn-in President Museveni cancelled negotiations with international oil companies.

Museveni is said to have first wanted Uganda’s capacity to properly manage the sector to improve before moving ahead with exploration.

In the late 1980s, Ugandan geoscientists were sent overseas to receive specialized training. A Petroleum Unit was established in the Geological Survey and Mines Department in 1990 and a year later reorganised into the Petroleum Exploration and Production Department.

In June 2006, Hardman became the first company to discover oil in Uganda through its Mputa-1 well. Then Heritage followed through with the Kingfisher discovery. Multiple oil finds, including by Tullow, made 2006 a breakout year for Uganda’s oil industry.

By 2014, the Ugandan government estimated that there was 6.5 billion barrels of oil in place, but recoverable oil is estimated to be between 1.8 and 2.2 billion barrels.


At the end of the show, candidates called for robust investments to address youth unemployment.

Candidates were asked to reveal their most important and regrettable decisions in life, with Besigye saying challenging the current government has attracted direct consequences to his family members. Joining the NRA bush war was Besigye’s most important decision.

Mbabazi’s most regrettable decision was “Not to live up to my known practice of resisting dictatorship whenever it showed its face” while Biraaro regretted not doing routine medical checkups during the campaign trail.

Museveni said he will always bear in mind how delaying to shoot Idi Amin’s soldiers in Mbale cost precious lives of his two friends.

With elections around the corner, Museveni said there was nothing big about leading the country at the age of 71.

“Why do you discriminate? Let all people of all ages stand and let the people select. In Tunisia they made mistakes and then elected someone who is 88,” said Museveni.

“It’s one of those recycled wrong ideas to say that being in power for 30 years with no successor means I am a bad leader.”

Former Principal Judge Justice James Ogoola capped the event with a speech that underscored the value of mature politics, tolerance and unity.
The newly appointed 1st Vice President of South Sudan, viagra Dr. Riek Machar will return to the country’s capital Juba only when his troops have taken positions in Juba.

President Salva Kiir on Thursday passed a decree giving the rebel leader the second most powerful political position in fulfilment of the peace agreement signed by the duo in August last year.

Dr Machar who has been in exile in Ethiopia since the beginning of the two-year bloody internal conflict is supposed to return to Juba for the full implementation of the treaty.

The most important ingredient in the accord is the formation of unity government by the two rival factions and other smaller splinters.

The Transitional Government of National Unity once formed is to last for three years and to organize national elections before its expiry.

The government was supposed to be put in place in December last year but the bickering between Kiir and Machar’s faction has derailed the process.

Finally on Thursday Kiir appointed his rival to the agreed position though in his absentia.

Speaking to agencies Dr. Machar welcomed the appointment but said he will only step foot in Juba when his 1, information pills 410 SPLA In Opposition forces have arrived and taken positions.

“I welcome the appointment and president is now taking a right decision. I will be in Juba when my soldiers are in place, information pills ” Machar told the Voice of America during an interview at his residence in Addis Ababa.

“If the soldiers are there in three days I can get there the next day.”

The capital is supposed to be demilitarized but the thousands of the mainstream SPLA forces under Kiir are to leave.

According to the articles of the agreement, the government is supposed to maintain only 3,420 forces in Juba while the SPLA-IO is to put in 1,410 in which 350 of them are to be direct Machar’s bodyguards.


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