KAMPALA- The Uganda Peoples’ Congress has said it was the government of Milton Obote, not the party that abolished kingdoms in 1966 and confiscated their properties.
UPC vice president Joseph Bbosa said last week the party neither held a meeting nor decided in any way on the seizure of Buganda properties.
The denial, the first such formal account by current UPC leaders, came days after President Museveni handed Mengo 213 land titles expropriated from Buganda 48 years ago.
“There is a difference between a party in power and government because they all have different rules that are followed,” Mr Bbosa said.
“The government which was under President Obote took the Buganda property without consent of the party.” Obote was the founding UPC President and remained so until his death in October, 2005.
Whereas parties in theory are supposed to be de-linked from the state, the reality in Uganda has been that of fusion of both whenever a party is in-charge of the government.
After drawing the difference by words last week, Mr Bbosa then argued that the public should stop demonising UPC since it as a party never directly involved in the 1966 Buganda crisis.
Differences between then executive Prime Minister Obote and ceremonial President, Kabaka Mutesa, flared up that year, resulting in the army raiding the palace on Obote’s orders and exiling him to Britain. Buganda officials have publicly expressed displeasure over the king’s humiliation.
The remains of Obote had to be diverted from the Gulu Highway when it was being taken to the final resting place in Akokoro, Apac District, after some of the kingdom’s loyalists in Buganda districts north of Kampala threatened to attack it.
Last week’s return of part of expropriated Buganda properties followed a protracted struggle by kingdom officials, leading to the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding signed between President Museveni and Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi.
UPC under its president Olara Otunnu has been trying, still with little success, to reach out to and interest Mengo officials in constructive dialogue so as to forget the strained past relationship and forge a new chapter.