‘If I hadn’t been his doctor, he probably wouldn’t be alive today to disturb you’
Budaka– The IPC flag bearer, Dr Kizza Besigye, said last week that his persistent opposition to some of the governing NRM’s policies has given President Museveni sleepless nights.
“I have been told that sometimes he [Museveni] wakes up in the middle of the night shouting my name,” Besigye said at a rally in Kibuku Town Council last Thursday, as the crowd cheered.
Besigye said he will not relent in his quest for change even if it means losing his life in the process. He urged the people not to give in to fear either.
“Everywhere you must fight for your freedom. If you fear death or imprisonment, then you will not get your rights,” Besigye said.
He said leaders are people’s workers, not bosses, because they (leaders) are sustained by taxpayers.
“Today I am here, whether Museveni likes it or not. I am the one who pays him,” Besigye said.
Speaking at length about his past association with Museveni, the IPC candidate said had it not been partly due to the medical services he rendered the president, “he might not have lived to disturb you today”.
He said he abandoned Museveni the moment he veered off the path of the ideals which took them to the bush in 1981. Besigye also spoke about reports in 2005 that he was to be arrested upon returning from exile in South Africa.
“Someone in government smuggled to me a letter written by President Museveni to cabinet, saying that if Besigye returns to the country he should be arrested. I read it, laughed and threw it away,” he said.
It was the first time during the campaigns that Besigye had devoted considerable time attacking Museveni and his government. Besigye’s tough rhetoric came amid reports that FDC supporters were being intimidated by security personnel and local NRM leaders.
Indeed as his convoy entered town, there were some soldiers from the Special Forces Group (SFG) stationed at Kibuku Secondary School.
The soldiers are said to have camped here days before Museveni campaigned in the area on Monday, December 6, 2010, and had not left since. In fact, some people reportedly feared to go to the IPC rally, uncertain of what could happen.
Besigye, on his part, urged the soldiers not to intimidate the people, saying they would be made to account once the IPC came to power.
There were also reports in Kibuku that the area MP, Saleh Kamba, had mobilized a “Kiboko Squad” to beat up whoever did not support the NRM. Kamba, a prominent member of Major Kakooza Mutale’s notorious Kalangala Action Plan, refuted the reports.
He told The Observer that the reports were being propagated by his rival, Jennifer Namuyangu, the minister of state for Water, whom he alleged had allied with FDC to work for the downfall of the NRM in the district.
But soon after Besigye left Kibuku town, Kamba reportedly pulled down his banner, saying the district belongs to the NRM. On Friday, December 10, FDC officials led by Dr Patrick Wakida and Geoffrey Ekanya, the Tororo County MP, protested against the act and Police in Kibuku said they would investigate the incident.
Wooing youthIn Budaka, the IPC candidate reached out to the youth, imploring them to vote for change because the current government had neglected them.
Addressing hundreds who turned up for a youth conference at St Anthony Catholic Church in Budaka, Besigye said the country was looking up to the young generation to get it out of the confusion and give it a new direction.
“A new beginning will not come on its own. You must invest in your future very actively, you must make every government accountable to you,” Besigye told the cheering youth.
He cautioned them against falling for NRM’s “propaganda” that it will improve their lives, saying there is high level unemployment because government has refused to invest in projects that create jobs.
He told the youth to have hope that things will change for the better once he comes to power.
Generally, Besigye’s rallies in Budaka, Kibuku and Pallisa were well attended. In places like Kadama, Tirinyi and Kagumu, all in Kibuku district, many people were excited to see the FDC leader.
In the 2006 elections, Museveni overwhelmingly defeated Besigye here, but judging from the reception he got this time, his team expects to perform better next year.
Wherever he went in this sub-region, the major problems affecting the people were said to be poor roads, poverty and lack of market for their produce. Campaigning in Pallisa on Saturday, before taking a day off to rest on Sunday, Besigye promised massive political and economic changes if elected.
Bugisu nextFor the next four days, starting today (Monday,) Besigye begins his Bugisu sub-region campaign. He is expected to start with a series of public rallies in Mbale district, where he camped for five days last week.
There is already excitement and anticipation in the municipality, which is represented in Parliament by FDC’s Jack Wamai.
Mbale municipality is the economic heartbeat of the region. The last time Besigye campaigned here in 2006, he got a resounding welcome. But the FDC will have to work extra hard to hold onto the two seats the party has in this sub-region (Nandala Mafabi and Jack Wamai) as well as win more.
Besigye will also venture into the other largely pro-NRM districts in the region - Sironko, Bududa, Bulambuli and Manafwa - later in the week, where he hopes to create a good impression.