I planned Besigye escape in 2001, says Col Mande
Posted Sunday, September 29 2013 at 00:00
Stockholm - Renegade UPDF officer Col Samson Mande has added another strand on the mysterious escape of Dr Kizza Besigye who slipped through 24-hour security surveillance net to exile in South Africa in 2001.
Col. Mande fled Uganda to Rwanda before settling in exile in Sweden where he lives to-date.
Dr Besigye, who was President Museveni’s challenger in the 2001 disputed elections, beat the security surveillance around him to escape to exile.
Several theories and speculations have been made in an attempt to explain how Dr Besigye escaped from his home in Port Bell, a Kampala city suburb, yet the State security machinery had set up an observation post near his house. He returned from exile in 2005 and has unsuccessfully contested twice against Museveni.
“That [escape trick] is my big secret which I lent to Besigye, and others and which I may need to lend to other persons when needed,” Col Mande told the Sunday Monitor in an interview in Stockholm, Sweden last week.
Asked to re-confirm that he helped Dr Besigye out of the country in 2001, Mande said: “Yes. I can still do it for some other people and that is why I will never disclose the trick because we are still dealing with the same situation and several other people might need that kind of service.”
This latest claim by Col Mande introduces a new angle to the escape of Besigye and other wanted politicians which has mystified the country for the past 12 years. Col Mande has said he participated in the planning of Dr Besigye’s escape and similar departures of other army officers and opposition politicians from Uganda.
He said besides Besigye’s, he also worked out the escape of Dr Wilbrod Okungu, the late Col Edson Muzoora and Lt Col Anthony Kyakabale who also lives in exile in Sweden.
Besigye could not be reached to corroborate the claim as his mobile phone was off.
Col Mande also revealed that he was already in contact with the runaway former spymaster Gen David Sejusa and are scheduled to meet soon to discuss their past differences and explore the opportunity of working together for a common strategy to bring about democratic reforms and regime change in Uganda.
“We are in the process of meeting, we have talked over the phone, and we look at the current situation with the view of how we can work together to help the situation, especially when it comes to transitioning Uganda from dictatorship, we need everybody on board,” he said.
People’s Redemption Army
The government in 2005 named Col Mande and Lt Col Kyakabale as commanders of the shadowy People’s Redemption Army (PRA) rebel group, over which Dr Besigye and dozen other suspects mostly from West Nile, were arrested and charged with treason. Court later acquitted Dr Besigye and other suspects while others secured their freedom after making confessions to be granted amnesty by the state.
In the interview, Col Mande also spoke about mysterious killing of comrades during the five-year Luweero bush war, the raiding of the Shs1.4b from the Bank of Uganda centre in Kasese during the war in 1985 and his life in exile.
Who is Col Mande?