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Sam Njuba to lie in State at Parliament

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FDC women leader Ingrid Turinawe leads her mates to lay a wreath on the coffin

Former Forum for Democratic Change leader Kizza Besigye (L) and party president Mugisha Muntu (R) join the police to escort Sam Njuba’s body for public viewing at the FDC headquarters at Najjanankumbi yesterday. Photo by Joseph Kiggundu. 

By  Monitor team

Posted  Tuesday, December 17   2013 at  02:00

In Summary

After drama played out behind the scenes with government changing positions, a decision was reached that the body lie in state at Parliament between 8am and 11am today and the service is to be held at his home instead of church. He will be buried in Kasangati, Gayaza at 2pm.

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Kampala- The body of former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) chairman Sam Kalega Njuba will lie in State in Parliament this morning from 8am to 11am.

This comes after drama played behind the scenes yesterday as government battled with itself on how to deal with the man who was central to the ruling government’s ascent to power but turned into an opposition kingmaker in the last two decades of his life.

Mr Njuba was a key member of the struggle that brought President Museveni to power between 1981-1986, serving mainly in the external wing, mobilising support, recruiting and facilitating the new recruits to join the bush war.

After capturing power in 1986, Mr Museveni appointed him to cabinet as minister for Constitutional Affairs at a crucial time of collecting views that turned into the 1995 Constitution. The two were later to fall out and Njuba joined Museveni’s biggest nemesis, Dr Kiiza Besigye, to challenge Mr Museveni’s stranglehold on power.

While he chose a path that challenged former comrade Museveni, his wife who was also a key figure in the bush war, Gertrude Njuba, remained in a close working relationship with the President.

Some of these are the factors which played key in government’s ping pong on how to deal with what should ideally have been a normal procedural matter of honouring a former MP and minister in Parliament.

Sources close to the late Njuba indicated that the programme for his funeral kept changing between Friday when he passed on and Monday when the party held a public viewing at its headquarters in Najjanankumbi.
The decision to hold the function at the party headquarters was apparently agreed after the organisers were frustrated by government shifting goal posts on the parliamentary viewing. Initially, it had been indicated to the family and the party that Mr Njuba would lie in State at Parliament on Monday morning, that programme was later changed and no new date was given.
A meeting that run until after 7pm on Sunday at the deceased’s home resolved to ignore Parliament and go ahead with a plan agreed on by the party and family to give Njuba a dignified sendoff but also accord his political friends especially FDC members and the public a chance to mourn him. But shortly after the meeting had ended, a convoy including an army general and a retired Major General arrived at Nangabo. Those members of the party who had already departed were to later receive news that the programme would be changed again to allow a Parliament session to honour him on Tuesday morning.
At Najjanankumbi yesterday as the party ceremony was about to begin, a convoy of police officers led by Cadet Officer Andrew Musiime arrived to announce that the function was “official” and the police was taking over. Officers and men dressed in ceremonial uniform took over the tent in which the body was lying.
Other officers were deployed in and around the party office. There was no confrontation as the FDC accepted the deployment not to dishonour its former chairman whose chair remained empty between secretary general Alice Alaso, president Mugisha Muntu and founding president Kiiza Besigye.
Ms Njuba and the children sat in an opposite tent.

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