By Charles Birungi
The US Ambassador to Uganda, Deborah Malac on Saturday afternoon quietly made her way to Dr. Kizza Besigye’s residence in Kasangati, where she held talks with the FDC strongman and his wife Winnie Byanyima.
Details of what was discussed in the closed door meeting by Ms. Malac and her hosts are still sketchy, but highly placed security sources have intimated to this website that Besigye requested more assistance from the ambassador for his failing ‘Defiance campaign’. It is not clear at this point what Ambassador Malac’s answer to this was. Efforts by this online publication to get a comment from the US embassy in Nsambya were not successful by the time of publishing this story.
It is possible that the unpublicized meeting between Besigye, Byanyima and Malac discussed topical political issues like the opposition’s attempts at creating public fricton with its debate on lifting the age limit for the president under Article 102 of the constitution. The government has distanced itself from the debate, with President Museveni ridiculing the entire contestation as an opposition ‘red herring’.
Article 102 (b) states that a person is not qualified for election as president of Uganda if he or she is less than thirty five years and or more than seventy five years of age.
If amended, it would allow President Museveni to stand for another term in 2021, when he will be 76 years old. As stated above, during a recent press conference in Entebbe, the President dismissed the debate on the age limit as mere speculation, stating that no such proposal had been brought up for discussion.
Kizza Besigye is opposed to any attempts at reviewing the constitution, presumably because he has been a perennial loser of general elections in which President Museveni has contested. Ever since his fourth straight loss to President Museveni in the February 2016 general election, Besigye has amused the general public by claiming that ‘He won’ the election and incredibly a ‘Transitional government’ (presumably with himself at the helm) should be established to review the constitution, under a ‘New political environment.’
Last week, law enforcement agencies arrested 56 FDC activists from churches in Kasangati and Gayaza at night, in what security sources have described as a subversive plot to re-launch the defiance campaign. The aim of Besigye’s farcical ‘Defiance campaign’ is to instigate violence, mayhem and disruption in the capital city. The activists, led by former Kumi County MP Patrick Amuriat were released two days later from Nalufenya in Jinja, where they were being detained.
Byanyima and Malac discuss Refugees
According to security sources, Ambassador Malac also held talks with Besigye’s wife and Executive Director of Oxfam International, Winnie Byanyima. The two among others discussed the current refugee situation in the country.
Uganda is currently host to an estimated 1.2 million refugees, most of whom have fled fighting and conflict in South Sudan.
During the refugee solidarity conference held in Kampala early this month, the US government pledged more than Shs.230 billion towards the refugees under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and WFP refugee assistance operations in Uganda.
Oxfam is an international confederation of 20 organizations working together with partners and local communities in several countries to mobilize people out of poverty.