EACOP protests irony not lost on Bobi Wine

Students under their umbrella body the Uganda National Students’ Association (UNSA), march to European Union offices to protest the resolution to delay the construction of the oil pipeline on September 29, 2022. PHOTO | ABUBAKER LUBOWA 

Opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu has described as shrinking President Museveni’s support after students protested the European Parliament’s attempt to scuttle the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) deal on Thursday.

“Gen Museveni has started getting our children from school to go on streets and protest yet he has imprisoned innocent Members of Parliament,” Mr Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, said, adding, “He cannot organise people to protests.”

Bobi Wine was speaking at the Dua prayers for Mr Muhammad Ssegiringa in Kawempe, Kampala on Friday. Mr Ssegiringa (Kawempe North) and fellow lawmaker Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye West), both from Bobi Wine’s National Unity Platform (NUP) party, have spent a year in prison after the State accused them of masterminding the spate of killings in Masaka that sprung up in 2021 involving machete-wielding gangs.

On September 14, the European Parliament red-flagged the EACOP project, citing human rights, environment and climate obligations. In a September 21 statement, Bobi Wine, who is the NUP principal, offered the European Parliament’s advisory resolution his unqualified support.

“The resolution is in agreement with our view that the project in its present form, is not intended for the tangible development of Uganda or its neighbours, but rather aims solely at exporting crude oil,” he reasoned.

He added: “The proceeds from the project will likely be lost through the widespread corruption and use for patronage, like has happened to all other projects undertaken by the Museveni regime.”

Mr Museveni, while addressing the 7th Uganda International Summit on Oil and Gas, said the EACOP project “is a wrong battleground for [the European Parliament].”

The President added: “When you go to these parliaments, these are just young girls … You are lecturing me what to do in Uganda! You young girl!”

The irony of using young people to protest was not lost on Mr Kyagulanyi. Neither was the vehicle of a protest, especially since hundreds of his supporters are reportedly being held incommunicado for exercising this civil right.

“Museveni killed over 200 people when they protested the arrest of one of the presidential candidates at the time thinking that he could weaken us, but now he has started getting our children from school to go on streets and protest,” Bobi Wine said.

The Opposition leader said every Ugandan has a role to play in what he called a liberation struggle. He consequently urged constituents of Kawempe North and Makindye West alike to engage in peaceful protests to demand for the release of their MPs.

Bobi Wine said the amended Computer Misuse Act looks primed to join the Public Order Management Act in attempting to stop Ugandans from enjoying the rights to freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression.

“They have done all they can to stop us from the struggle, but we are still strong and we will remain strong,” Bobi Wine said.

He proceeded to state thus: “We want the EU to put tough conditions on our oil before the pipeline is built and make sure that the wealth of the country benefits the country, not an individual the same way our gold has been stolen by his family and other natural resources.”

Mr David Lewis Rubongoya, the NUP secretary general, accused the government of abducting  and unlawfully detaining members of the opposition.

“It is unfortunate that the regime has been abducting people [using security personnel] in plain clothes, sometimes in military clothes, putting people in numberless vehicles and private vehicles,” Mr Rubongoya said.

He added: “How can we know if the regime has decided to abduct its people using people who are not in uniform and can’t even introduce themselves? How can you tell the difference between criminals and people who are working for the state?”

Two weeks ago, lawmakers led by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Thomas Tayebwa, condemned the EU Parliament, accusing it of economic sabotage, racism and interference over a motion seeking to block the oil pipeline project.

Government responds

When contacted yesterday, the Minister of ICT and National Guidance, Dr Chris  Baryomunsi, said: “Mr Kyagulanyi just wants to keep relevant. Whether school children or not  any other serious citizen surely knows that Uganda is a sovereign country. It’s not those European Union MPs to tell us how to manage our affairs.”  

He added: “If Kyagulanyi thinks we should kneel before foreigners after 60 years of independence, then he needs serious help. He is a disgrace to Uganda.”