By Henry D Gombya
Opponents of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni have chosen the day the country celebrates its independence from Britain to announce the formation of a new liberation front that will be entrusted with the gigantic task of freeing Ugandans from 27 years of misrule, corruption, murder and intrigue carried out by the ruling National Resistance Movement.
October 10, 2013[London] — As Ugandans prepare today to take part in national celebrations marking 51 years since the United Kingdom declared Uganda an independent state, drums of a new fight to free themselves from Gen Museveni’s leadership are being sounded all over the country after leading politicians and military leaders met and decided to form the Freedom and Unity Front (FUF) which has been tasked to involve every Ugandans regardless of where they come from, to take part in what the organizers called a struggle against “massive violations of human rights under different regimes since independence”.
While a statement released by Dr Vincent Magombe, FUF’s Publicity Secretary did not give out any names of those involved in the setting up of the new political movement, highly reliable sources have toldThe London Evening Post that a meeting that met in secret over the weekend chose Professor Amii Omara-Otunnu, the younger brother of Dr Olara Otunnu, current leader of the Uganda Peoples Congress to head FUF. It is also reliably learned that Gen David Sejusa who fled Uganda last April is among many senior current serving army generals who have given their backing to the new movement.
Prof Omara-Otunnu, the first UNESCO chair in Human Rights in the USA, is currently the professor of history and international human rights at the University of Connecticut. Like his brother, he is widely travelled and respected around the world and has written a book, Politics and the Military in Uganda 1890-1985, (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1987) in which he analyses evidence not previously published to show that ethnic and linguistic groupings have been manipulated within the army for particular political interests throughout the army’s history especially during the regime of dictator Idi Amin who carried the manipulation to extremes.
While not naming where and exactly when they met to form the movement, FUF’s statement said “Ugandans of good will, both living inside Uganda and those abroad, and belonging to different political organisations and ideological groups”, came together recently and agreed to the formation of FUF. “This new political organisation has been formed by all those with a high sense of purpose, history and determination, and a desire to transcend the divisive and criminal actions that have over the years threatened the very existence of our country,” the statement read.
It added that FUF stands for “political freedoms and democratic pluralism, economic development and social justice, human rights and the rule of law”, and offered to unveil uncorrupted leadership that would effectively manage the country’s affairs “irrespective of political, ethnic, cultural, regional, religious, gender or social class orientation or standing”.
The selection of Prof Omara-Otunnu who comes from northern Uganda may raise eyebrows to many in Uganda but a source close to FUF told The London Evening Post, that the front’s leadership is determined to have leaders from all regions of the country and that no particular tribe would monopolise the front as is the case in the ruling National Resistance Movement. Omara-Otunnu will need all his international experience in bringing together many Ugandans who have for years been frustrated by Museveni’s leadership and are being united because they all share one desire, that of removing Museveni from power and returning the country back to the people.
A practical idealist and visionary, Prof Omara-Otunnu has devoted most of his adult life to promoting democracy, human rights, sustainable development, social justice and the ideal and practice of a common humanity around the globe. He engages these causes as a scholar advocate and a practitioner, by shaping policy and building structures and alliances through which to effect positive change in society. For his achievements, Professor Omara-Otunnu has received international recognition, including the luminary award given by the international affairs council to individuals who have made significant contributions that have profoundly impacted the world.
Dr Magombe’s press statement said FUF’s main mission will be to serve as a midwife for people’s aspiration in achieving freedom from “fear, hunger, oppression, corruption, victimization, bribery, nepotism, and united in a celebration of our diversity”. His statement further said that within the next couple of months, FUF’s leadership team, organisational structure and the ethos that inform all the actions of FUF shall be unveiled. Until this meeting is held, no one knows whether FUF will contest the next general elections that are not due until 2016.
While saying it will work with all Ugandans to “liberate Uganda”, FUF did not make it very clearly whether this liberation will either mean a military confrontation with Museveni’s forces, or would restrict itself to removing Museveni through the ballot box. It was also not immediately clear whether Prof Omara-Otunnu would leave his post with UNESCO and at the University of Connecticut to concentrate fully on opposition politics in his country of birth.
While not mentioning his name anywhere in the statement handed to the press last night, we are reliably informed that Gen Sejusa is among the architects of the new liberation front. Since his arrival in Britain, he has met and discussed Uganda’s future with several leading Ugandan politicians and has all but given up on his quest to remain as the army representative in Uganda’s parliament. But no specific details are known to have been released as to what exactly these meetings have and continue to be about.
However, it is quite clear that names of high ranking politicians who are currently in Uganda will not be released when FUF comes out with a list of holders of office in the new front for the time being for fear of their security. Since he left Uganda where he was and continued to be the coordinator of army intelligence, Gen Sejusa has kept away from appearing in public places but has been working tirelessly behind the scenes to bring about changes in Uganda’s current leadership.