Dr Kizza Besigye has warned Gen. David Tinyefuza, the coordinator of intelligence agencies, to stop intimidating opposition supporters in Sembabule District.
Dr Besigye, a retired army colonel and Inter-Party presidential candidate, told residents who complained of harassment by state spies that individuals who antagonise the masses end up in “deep problems”. “When he (Gen. Tinyefuza) comes here, tell him that former presidents like Milton Obote and Idi Amin had more sophisticated security machinery but where are they now?” he said.
Tinyefuza hits back
And added: “They should stand warned because this country does not belong to Mr Museveni. It belongs to all Ugandans and when the people decide that you must go, whether you have millions of guns, you will still go.”
Yesterday, Gen. Tinyefuza dismissed the threats and described the allegations as a red-herring, telling the Forum for Democratic Change leader, who is a consensus presidential candidate for four parties, “not to drag us” into ongoing campaigns. He said: “I would advise my old friend Kizza Besigye to concentrate on his job of convincing Ugandans to support his political agenda and leave security services alone.” “It’s not impossible for the state to stop anybody,” he added, “If we want to do it, we would do it effectively.”
Mr Peter Asiimwe, a resident, had informed Dr Besigye during a rally near the home of Lwemiyaga MP Theodore Ssekikubo, that the Gombolola Internal Security Officers were intimidating Besigye’s supporters in villages using underhand methods.
“They have been warning us that if we attend your rally, we will be arrested and taken to jail,” he said, “Some of us have even been denied water from a borehole.” It had also been alleged that the spymaster ordered security operatives under his watch to register names of individuals backing the “enemies” of NRM.
Dr Besigye seized on the reported witch-hunt to emotionally recount his warm comradeship with Gen. Tinyefuza, whose life, he said, he saved during the 1981-86 National Resistance Army bush war which brought President Museveni to power.
The opposition politician was one of handful of health professionals in the bush that treated many top rebel commanders, including serving as personal physician to Mr Museveni against whom he is contesting for the third time.
“I know Gen. Tinyefuza very well. Even where he is, it is me who saved him,” Dr Besigye said of the chief spy, who fell out with the Museveni regime in mid 1990s, only to retreat and get rehabilitated after losing a key court battle.
The weekend events in Sembabule, part of Buganda region that Dr Besigye has been rallying for change for six days, raise questions about neutrality of security organisations in the heat of general campaigns.
Gen. Tinyefuza, alongside Police and Prisons chiefs; Kale Kayihura and Dr Johnson Byabashaija together with Lt. Ronald Balya of the Internal Security Organisation, first received criticism for attending the launch of the ruling NRM party’s manifesto. Ugandan laws bar security personnel from participating in partisan politics.
In yesterday’s telephone interview, Gen. Tinyefuza said they have made no attempt to muzzle government opponents and that’s why Dr Besigye is “moving freely, drawing all the crowds and none of his supporters has been arrested and locked up in a cell”. “These are unnecessary. Besigye has not been stopped on the road and we are not interfering with his rallies,” the general said.
The Supreme Court, in its verdict on Dr Besigye’s 2006 election petition, found security organs culpable of intimidating and harassing voters during that year’s ballot. The court ordered the government to address “the question of the involvement of the military or any armed groups in elections”.
Meanwhile, the IPC candidate spent yesterday addressing various rallies in Gomba District where he promised, if elected, to allocate 10 per cent of the national budget to the health sector.
Septuagenarian Paul Ssemakula, whose house is by the roadside, yesterday intercepted the candidate’s convoy in Bukadula with assurances he will vote for him, but on one condition. “Please, make sure that you help us resolve all those issues which are making our Kabaka cry,” he said.