Makerere don tells Museveni: “Don’t force Ugandans into exile”

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Makerere University political history lecturer, Mwambutsya Ndebesa has asked the authorities against recreating conditions that forced them with their families into exile. 

He said it is the political and legal manipulations by presidents, Idi Amin and Milton Obote in the 1970s and early 80s respectively that forced people like the incumbent president, Yoweri Museveni and Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda into exile.

He said the ongoing schemes to lift the presidential age limit are some of the legal manipulations that can trigger violence and force opposition politicians to flee Uganda.

Ndebesa said that another politician, who that should tread carefully on the age limit, is the Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah who was reportedly shot in 1990 as he led rioting students at Makerere University.

Oulanyah was the Makerere University Guild Speaker when he led a demonstration together with Norbert Mao, the incumbent Democratic Party president, against the National Resistance Movement government for scrapping students' allowances.

Ndebesa said, "Museveni has been an improvement from Obote" but risks being compromised should he fail to listen to the people's voices.

The don’s statements come amidst heightened tension over the proposed amendment of article 102 (b) of the Constitution, which caps the president's age at 75 years.

On September 27, majority NRM leaning legislators approved a motion by the Igara West MP, Raphael Magyezi to table a bill proposing the scrapping of the presidential age limit.

Opposition legislators together with a section of their NRM colleagues opposed to the motion tried to put up a spirited fight but were suspended from the House by the Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, leading into chaos and anarchy.

The MPs were brutally ejected by plain clothes security men when they defied Kadaga's directive to vacate the House immediately.

Museveni's path to exile

In 1971, President Museveni fled into exile in Tanzania where he led Front for National Salvation (FRONASA), one of the military wings that toppled Idi Amin in 1979.

In February 1981, Museveni launched a war in Luweero against the Obote II government for allegedly manipulating the 1980 elections.

The Museveni led National Resistance Army captured power in 1986 from Gen Tito Okello.

During the war against Amin and Obote, Museveni's family lived in exile in Tanzania, Kenya and Sweden.

Like Museveni, Rugunda spent much of the Amin and Obote II time in exile. Rugunda escaped to Dar-es-Salaam in 1973.

Speaking for the first time after being dropped in 2014, the former Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi, revealed that Rugunda survived execution by Amin's regime before he fled into exile in 1973.

The attempted execution was triggered by the botched invasion of Uganda from Tanzania by the rebels.

Public executions of captured rebels were carried out in Mbarara, Mbale and Fort Portal.

Mbabazi said that one of the people who were supposed to be executed then was Rugunda.

He however, said Rugunda survived because of his greatest skill at making friendship.

He said that Rugunda was warned by his friends in the government that he was being trailed by government intelligence.

To evade capture, Mbabazi said, Rugunda was advised to shave his famous beard. Rugunda spent his exile years in Tanzania, Namibia, Zambia, Kenya and Sweden.

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