KAMPALA- Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi has said it is not a crime to harbour presidential ambitions.
Addressing journalists at his office in Kampala yesterday, Mr Mbabazi said the raging debate about reports that he is planning to challenge Mr Museveni for the presidency have created an impression that vying for the country’s top job is unlawful.
“The way we talk…even if someone harboured ambitions of being a president, you talk about it as if it is a big crime in Uganda. Is it a crime to harbour presidential ambitions? Of course not. Ridiculous. Harbouring presidential ambitions has absolutely nothing wrong legally [and] morally and I do not think anyone in his right senses would say that it is criminal,” Mr Mbabazi said.
The Prime Minister was responding to questions about leaked recordings that feature the Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, interrogating NRM youth leaders about their role in the alleged plan by Mr Mbabazi to challenge Mr Museveni for the presidency in the 2016 polls.
The police admitted that the recordings were part of wider investigations and had been leaked to the public by wrong elements. A police officer accused of leaking the recordings was arrested and detained.
Yesterday, Mr Mbabazi acknowledged meeting Gen Kayihura last week but declined to divulge details, only insisting that the leaked recordings were not part of their discussions.
“I meet with the IGP often-many times and I did meet with him last week and there was nothing chaotic. Why would there be anything chaotic between a PM and an IGP? And I have not discussed with him the leaked tapes,” Mr Mbabazi said.
However, in a telephone interview yesterday, the police spokesperson, Mr Fred Enanga, insisted that his boss had not met the Prime Minister.
“We are not aware of any such meeting. I have contacted all the directors that are alleged to have accompanied the big man (Kayihura) like Grace Turyagumanawe and director CIID and they are all not aware of the meeting,” Mr Enanga said.
Mr Turyagumanawe is the police director for operations while Ms Grace Akullo is the CIID boss.
Asked if indeed he was building a financial war chest to launch a presidential bid in 2016 as alleged by one of the youth interrogated by Gen Kayihura, Mr Mbabazi challenged those making the claim to provide evidence.
“Anyone accusing me of soliciting money for a presidential bid, please ask them to give evidence. I have not launched any presidential bid; so how would I solicit money for a bid that does not exist?” he said.
The Prime Minister also confirmed that MPs from the ruling party had been facilitated to visit their constituencies and drum up support for President Museveni’s candidature in 2016.
The exercise follows the February resolution in Kyankwanzi that the NRM solely endorses Mr Museveni as its presidential flag-bearer.
Asked why some MPs were yet to get the money for this exercise, Mr Mbabazi said it was being disbursed in phases.
“The programme was to stagger the going of MPs because if all [NRM] MPs went, Parliament would stop. The opposition cannot realise quorum. So my presumption is that Kanungu is in the districts that will come later,” he said.
Contacted on phone yesterday, NRM deputy chief whip David Bahati said each MP had been allocated Shs4 million per sub-county for the exercise.
“This exercise is for six weeks and we are now four weeks into it and it is progressing well,” Mr Bahati said but could not explain the “delayed” disbursements for some MPs, saying he lacked all the necessary information.
Alleged list of journalists promoting his bid: “Is this [list] from me or from you [the media]. Intelligence [agencies] apart, now that you are in this press conference, are you going to be accused of meeting me? Have I contacted any of you, or has any one ever contacted you even allegedly on my behalf?”
On expediting investment processes: “Uganda Investment Authority must truly become a one-stop centre for investments. We are determined to cut the time it takes for a company to come into the Ugandan market and become operational. We want to catch up with the rest of the world because ours has been slow.”