Take Heart Mr Besigye; Gov’t Does not Intend to Harm You

Besigye being taken back to Luzira from court on Wednesday (Photo by Kenneth Kazibwe)

By: Obed Katureebe

A few days ago, visit web the embattled former presidential candidate Kizza Besigye made some alarming statements to the effect that his life was in danger for as long as he continued to be in Luzira Prison.

While appearing before the Nakawa Chief Magistrate’s Court on May 18, order Besigye pleaded that his continued detention in Luzira was putting his life in danger. He did not elaborate this statement but many people interpreted it to mean that he could be killed while in detention.

Few days later his wife Winnie Byanyima made similar remarks. In the very article Byanyima is quoted to have said that police was using all the maneuverings to access Luzira Prison and harm Dr Kizza Besigye.

“Government has acquired unnamed toxic agents which could harm political opponents”, look Byanyima is quoted in a press release she issued to the media.

Kizza Besigye and wife are free to express their feelings which could be real or imaginary, but it is however very incorrect for them to make such alarming statements minus substantiating them.

Whereas, political assassinations used to be the order of the day during the1970s and 80s, Ugandans have since forgotten those dark days ever since President Museveni assumed office in 1986. In fact most political pundits do contend that the biggest winning card for Museveni’s political survival is ending extra judicial killings that had become a stamp card for the previous regimes.

President Museveni right from the word go refused to be tempted in such dirty machinations of assassinating those opposed to him even when he was facing the fiercest of rebellions. He insisted on using other political means to defeat those opposed to him politically.

Militarily he engaged those fighting him in war zones until he neutralized them. In his words those who kill those opposed to them politically are silly cowards that do not deserve place in the current world political order.

Killing has never been part and parcel of the NRM ideology. Killing is only sanctioned in war zones between those who have chosen war as a way of settling political disputes. Government can also kill when the security organs of the state are neutralizing armed and violent criminal gangs who are a threat to national security.

In the first instance why would government plot to harm Dr Besigye. What political threat does Besigye pause to a legitimately elected President like Museveni that cannot be handled by the competent organs of the state?

Besigye is not a stranger in political activism in this country. It is almost coming to 20 years of political activism and for all this time his life has been guaranteed. Why then would government begin to think sinister against a man they have managed even at his most volatile times.

If the state did not panic to do something sinister in 2000 when Besigye was more popular and energetic why would it begin panicking when Besigye seems to be running out of steam both physically and emotionally?

Political assassinations are myopic actions that are history in our political culture. My interpretation is that it has something to do with being “unmanly” in that it could be perceived that the perpetrators didn’t face their political opponents straight on.

Political assassinations destabilize all nations and degrade the rule of law, and both of these can lead to additional loss of life and political mayhem like the one we experienced in the 70s and the 80s. For example the assassination of former president of Libya Mummer Gaddafi by the US and her NATO allies could only give birth to sectarian violence and the collapse of Libya as a state.

The Hutu extremists that killed the then embattled Rwanda president Juvenile Habyarimana in 1994 were not spared either. What followed was genocide of the Tutsi and the collapse of the regime and those who thought that by killing Habyarimana they were solving a political problem ended up being routed out of government by the RPF and most of them perished in the jungles of DR Congo and beyond.

Finally, political assassinations undermine any hope at achieving peace through dialogue, diplomatic channels, prolong conflicts and cause more divisions within the body politick.

Just like the US scholar Prof. Kai Nielsen once observed, “History is not made by individuals and that since this is so, it is rarely the case that the elimination of individuals will change anything”. Therefore, it is only illogical and irrational for any civil regime like the NRM to imagine such archaic agenda like harming political agitators is a panacea to political wrangling.

This is because the institutions to competently handle such like courts of law are very available and will indeed handle Besigye’s wayward behaviour impartially like they have done before.

Therefore, Besigye and his dear wife Winnie should take heart; government will not harm him.

The author works with Uganda Media Centre – Office of the President

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