Deconstructing Museveni’s Nairobi interview

01 May

By Stephen Twinoburyo

President Yoweri Museveni’s office announced that he would be in Nairobi on official business the day after his political opponent was flown there in great agony for urgent medical attention following injuries he sustained in a brutal attack from the president’s security agents. This visit came at the time when the nation was angry and expected answers from the president. The international community has also been following Uganda’s events keenly.

During his stay in Kenya, Museveni was interviewed by NTV Kenya.

In the interview, Museveni seemed angered by the journalist who asked him if he didn’t feel concerned that he is increasingly being compared to former Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin, in various circles. He instead started berating the journalist and telling him that he was “unserious” and didn’t know his work if he could ask Museveni such a question. He spent more time berating the journalist than putting the matter to rest. Museveni seems to suggest that it’s an insult for anyone, least of all the journalists, to compare him to Amin, when actually he is doing nothing, and instead encourages the actions that bring that comparison. He has variously used the notoriety of Amin throughout the world to hide the heinous acts and violation of human rights by the police and the army under his regime. When Ugandans mention him in comparison with Amin they are only holding him to the statements he made of the aims of his movement and government i.e. to stop state inspired violence, to end torture, to respect the rule of law.

Why is this policeman kicking and spraying a held man?

In the same interview, President Museveni failed to express any regret about the method of arrest his political opponents or the number of innocent people hurt by teargas, bullets or beatings. And he instead justified the actions of the police and army. This is regrettable. Ugandans truly feel hurt and would have expected the president to express regret and condemn the actions of his security men. He seems to be out of touch with his people and does not seem to be reading the prevailing mood. If this is not the case, then he is outrightly arrogant. After the scenes that have been beamed around the world, the president could have done better. Newspapers around the world have been using headlines such as “Uganda police brutality in pictures”: This is an image Museveni should have been cleaning. Museveni seems to be behaving the same way ousted Egyptian president, Hosni Mubbarak, behaved in his addresses to the nation during the Egyptian riots, completely misreading what his people were asking him.

May the president take a look at this video again and see if the actions of these men don’t deserve regret, and in fact disciplinary action:

In the interview, President Museveni instead claims that it is Dr Kiiza Besigye who was responsible for the way police acted because he sprayed pepper spray onto the police and then the police together with plain-clothes security agents retaliated with their own pepper spray on Dr Besigye. This statement is bizarre. Firstly, none of the numerous local and international news media captured this action yet they all captured the brutal police assault and vandalism. Secondly, how did the police know in advance that Dr Besigye was going to use pepper spray on them such that they came prepared with theirs? Is pepper spray one of the tools police use in their duties? Thirdly, the police and security agents vandalised Dr Besigye’s car with hammers and guns, breaking windows before spraying him with harmful chemicals. How then was he able to spray them with pepper while he was in a closed car they were vandalising?

President Museveni has no regrets for this

The clip above shows Museveni’s security agents, who people refer to as thugs, heavily assaulting other people. Did the president not see the need to regret the actions of these “thugs”? As Uganda’s clergy put it (, in any normal society, a person vandalising somebody’s car would ordinarily be a thief or thug and police would be required to arrest him unlike in this incident when the police just looked on, and in fact took part. What a disgrace to the police uniform! The president should have expressed regret for this action rather than seeming to condone it. The Washington Post recently remarked that Museveni’s comments nowadays boarder on the bizarre and the scolding of the Ugandans clergy for daring to advise him as shown in the following clip underscores this,

Dr Kiiza Besigye being loaded onto a police truck after assault

It’s a shame for the president to refer to the police/army/CID as boys who might have taken the action a little far in a rather trivial manner. If he can say that of police brutality of this magnitude, wouldn’t Obote, whom Museveni castigated, not also have the justification to use a similar line of reasoning about the brutalities of the police/army when arresting suspects during his regime? And the leadership of the operation on site included an ASP and one Turyagumanawe who are very senior police officers. Are these the officers Museveni calls boys? If they are indeed Museveni’s boys, do then those who disagree with Museveni stand a chance before these ‘boys’?

"Museveni's boys" in official action

The president, without any shame, said Dr Besigye earlier wanted to walk but the police told him not to walk. The president should realise that within the prevailing hardships, walk to work is an expression of people’s frustrations with his reckless spending of public money , without any sign of regard or feelings for ordinary people when the majority of Ugandans are living in abject misery. As TIME magazine puts it “Museveni’s reelection campaign is estimated to have cost $350 million, with a supplementary budget approved to foot the bill after the national treasury was reportedly exhausted. Since then his regime has spent $740 million on fighter jets and at least $1.3 million on his swearing-in ceremony [this month, May 12] — all while inflation has soared from 6% to 11% since February…. infrastructure is crumbling. Education and health services are failing the people. To buy off potential political adversaries, Museveni has added so many new districts that Uganda, a country of 32 million, now has the highest number of sub-national administrative units in Africa and the fourth highest in the world. And the standard of living is still painfully low, with GDP per capita at only $509, according to the International Monetary Fund.”,8599,2067136,00.html

Already the lead security agent in the Besigye attack is said to have fled the country. His homes  across different parts of the country, from Kampala to Rukungiri, have been destroyed by people angry at his actions. Doesn’t it say a lot if the Museveni’s security agent can run into exile out of people’s anger? It was also reported that people stoned the army commander, Aronda Nyakairima’s convoy as it drove through a Kampala surburb. Isn’t this a sign that things have changed in the country? Museveni and his group must be wondering why people hate them so much so soon after an election he ‘won’ convincingly, when just a matter of weeks ago people were ululating his name on the campaign trail. First of all his campaign was a moving Bank of Uganda in a galaxy of poverty but also the actions of his men as we see in the following clip are turning even his erstwhile supporters away:

So much seems to have changed in Uganda. Does Museveni think that everybody: the clergy, local and international media, the people, foreign observers e.t.c are getting it wrong and it’s only him that is right? Even the Amins had a similar mindset. “The riots, in which roads have been barricaded with burning tyres and vehicles pelted with rocks, mark a new level of defiance. Facebook and Twitter, which the government unsuccessfully tried to block, are reverberating with dissent. Museveni’s heavyhanded attempts to put out the fire only appear to be fanning its flames.” The Guradian,

The above situation seems to be summed up in one Ugandan’s comment on facebook: “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” – George Orwell, ‘Animal Farm’. – “You know you’ve sunk to a remarkable level of depravity when you’re repeatedly compared to Idi Amin!”


12 responses to “Deconstructing Museveni’s Nairobi interview

  1. Peter G

    May 1, 2011 at 21:13

    Thank you Stephen for keeping hope alive.

    And no matter what he does or says or does not do or does not say, the comparisons are not going to go away any time soon. And truth be told, if what I am hearing on the streets (and trust me, my ears are firmly planted there) is anything to go by, the general consensus seems to be that the man Museveni is worse than Amin in many respects. Whereas I do not condone whatever it is that Amin did, information available seems to indicate that his crimes have been multiplied a hundredfold over the years to make him look as bad as is possible. And those who do so are simply projecting their own failings on a man who is no longer around to put up a defense. Amin usually acted in the night to snatch his victims, these thugs do it in broad day light.

    Let them empty on the streets of Kampala all the guns and mambas and soldiers and thugs they have, they can even go ahead and kill off every citizen if they so wish, but let them know this, that they will never kill justice. Justice never died under guns, from Europe, to Asia, to America, to Africa, justice never died from bullets. Long after the guns have gone silent, and the streets flow with the blood of the slain, justice will rise and will demand its pound of flesh. But when power has intoxicated someone, they can never look over their shoulder to see that justice clings to their backs, waiting, waiting, waiting…

    And then you have idiots like Kirunda Kivejinja and Kabakumba Matsiko for ministers, Tamale Mirundi for spokespersons and you wonder if you should be angry or laugh at the circus parade.

    My advice to the ruling demonic horde is this. Buy some full length mirrors, buy a decent sound system, get yourselves a copy of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror”, slot it into the CD player and take a very long and hard look at yourselves as he blasts away in that unimitable voice, “I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways…”

    You may crush the people but you will never crush the human spirit. You will never crush truth, you will never crush justice, you will never crush freedom. And what a shame it will be when you wake up one day and realize that the emperor was naked all along.

  2. Twino Speaks

    May 1, 2011 at 21:41

    Thank you Peter.

  3. David T Luwum

    May 1, 2011 at 22:47

    In accordant to His Excellency Dr. Y.K.M7’s speech yesterday in Nairobi TV, “Dr.KB was stopped by the police and when to his car …”

    In this circumstance, the facts are, a person cannot be arrested on suspicion of committing a felony well after the fact unless the arresting officer possesses an arrest warrant.

    In the latest case of Dr.KB arrest, when in his car, in addition to the fact that, the use of liquid tear gas, as it was in a confined space was inhuman; the arrest powers of police and police agents are in excess of those afforded to ordinary citizens.

    Hence, there are still big gaps on how Ugandan Police Department would first need to be fully trained on when and how to use tear gas and to what quantity; let alone whether or not the arrest was lawful.

    The government should not expect the people of Uganda to fully respect the unlawfulness or aggressiveness of policing.

    Therefore, to rebuild trust, since the police are not above any law; the government needs to find ways of accepting that grave mistakes has been made, compensate victims, apologies to the nation and take a transparent responsibilities of ensuring no recurrent etc.

    Unfortunately, these responsibilities have to be taken by His Excellency Dr. Y.K.M7 the President of Republic of Uganda.

    Otherwise, beside his unproven accusation that Dr. KB or his associate in the car spray at the police first, The President credential and authority to lead is subject to endless criticism, even by those like me who cannot lead.

  4. james

    May 2, 2011 at 07:54

    Man Stephen, its a master piece borne out of thorough reflection of the events of last week and what is still ensuing. Would any Journalist have thought of equating M7 to Amin in the early 80s and 90s? No! Why? Because the two were distinctly different so we all thought. But now that it is a common thing, isn’t the writing on the wall?

  5. Comrade Ado

    May 2, 2011 at 11:17

    This police action and the defense of it at the interview which I watched raises the question as to whether the phrase “Fountain of Honour” as used to refer to National leaders is a “given”, or is subject to some benchmarks!!! Just like is it obligatory for law-abiding citizens to follow unlawful orders, notwithstanding the fact that they come from men in police uniforms. Should we obey the police or the police uniforms?. Food for thought!!

  6. My 2 Cents!!

    May 3, 2011 at 00:50

    Well written Stephen. You have continued to educate us on the ”other truths”regarding the usual rhetoric given by the government’s actions. No one can justify this kind of behavior. It is nothing i have seen in my life before – it is Inhuman, Irresponsible, Immature, Incompetent, Insolent, Irritating, Uncalled for, Unnecessary, Uncouth, Unpleasant, Disgusting, Demonic, Deplorable, Desparate, Barbaric, Beastly….etc etc

  7. devnetgirl

    May 3, 2011 at 06:52

    Good blog!

  8. uganda

    May 4, 2011 at 10:38

    Dear loved Ugandans, the Poor, the disenfranchised, the isolated, the imprisoned, those whose land, and properties have been bought by individuals using state funds, the tear gased, the safe housed innocents (torture chambers), THE OWNERS OF THE COUNTRY. Keep strong, keep clear, start getting the sense of owning your country by making the looters account to you. Lets deprive them money they use to byu equipment to harras the OWNERS.
    You th eOwnres can live in harmony, in love with one another, regardless of your Tribe of beliefs system. Yes we can,and this is the kind Uganda we want to leave our children with. In KAMPALA for many years this has been the case but its a legacy at risk when change comes.

    YOU the Diahards of NRM/Akaazo Club where are you going to hide?? You the kids and grand kids of the Incumbents Would you like to see what happened to DR KB and Sept 2009 victims, Kasubi scenes happen to you??
    LETS TAKE THE COUNTRY BACK. WELL DONE RUKUNGIRi!!!!you have answered the tiers of Northern Uganda , Luwero, Ombachi, Train massacres in TESO, Kanungu—


  9. John Wanjohi

    May 4, 2011 at 14:42

    Bravo Steve for the researched masterpiece reflecting the reality on the ground. I watched with remorse the denial in the face of His excellence president YKM7…it is absolutely sad for the president to allow abuse of the rule of law in a country known for peace and once the “pearl of Africa”. Dictators are not born but they become groomed with their overstay in office upto when they believe they are above the law. After 25 years in power the president has started to misrule Uganda and allowing the his army to take the law into their hands. The mishandling of Dr.KB is a sad story for Africa.

  10. charles

    May 4, 2011 at 15:26

    Its high time the old guards who can not respect the rule of law they have sworn to uphold leave before they are forced to do so.It is sad for a whole president to CHEAT the whole world in broad day light and repeatedly.SORRY UGANDA.


    May 5, 2011 at 01:49

    Stephen, this is wandfuru!!

    May I share with you my reaction to Museveni’s speech to the nation after the Kasubi killings. This reaction is no different to my response to his most recent speech as well as the one after the so called Buganda riots when Museveni’s rioting soldiers killed almost 40 people.

    Please replace Buganda with Uganda in the note below and you will see how it applies. in case you have not read my most recent reaction, please readt it on FB.


    Kasubi March 2010 -when a president shot and killed his own people but still remained defiant!

    authored by Ddembe on 22. March 2010 at 18:21

    The arrogance!

    People are dead at the hands of his men and the command of his son! Instead of mourning for the double tragedy, all he can think of is the tired old militant rhetoric! He seems to believe that it is him and his family who ‘fought”! Yet his victory is due to those who laid down their lives for him -many of them Baganda. Almost certainly the majority combattants and non combattants were Baganda!

    It is a small thing to show respect to ones hosts for accept it or not, Museveni’s governments are guests in Kampala/Buganda! Symbols have a lot of power over men -which is why he is dishing out “medals and honours” Symbols that have stood the test of 800 years have roots in the hearts and minds of people -something the less than 50 year old central government has failed to do and he himself has failed to do in 24 years.

    The mistake that Museveni and many of his predecessors make is to act like and assume that they are occupiers!

    Whatever popularity that Museveni may have had in Buganda is not really due to his likeability as a person. The more Baganda suffered at the hands of obote’s troops, the more recruits and logistical support Obote’s enemies got.

    The less difference people see between Museveni and his predecessor, the more radicalised the populace becomes.

    This fire if arson could have been started by anyone. But Museveni can only blame himself for acting predictably. The death of innocents shall never go unnoticed!

    The police and security organisations have become predictable. If they really want to have the upper hand they need to act with less predictability.

    Museveni’s enemies want exactly the type of images that Museveni is giving them so gratuitiously!! Makerere, Kasubi, Rukiga -all in one week yet we still have a few months to go to the next election!

    A more discerning president would have demanded that Kayihura takes one for the team and resigns, apologised for the harm done to mourners advertent or inadvertent, offered compensation to the aggrieved families and lectured the police and security organisations on how to deal with the civilians they are paid to protect!

    Someone needs to remind Museveni of the man who said the following words “Therefore the security of Uganda is their right and not a favour bestowed by any regime. No regime has a right to kill any citizen of this country, or to beat any citizen at a roadblock. We make it clear to our soldiers that if they abuse any citizen, the punishment they will receive will teach them a lesson. As for killing people -if you kill a citizen, you yourself will be killed.”

    That same man said the following during another speech to elders in Gulu at Acholi Inn, March 12 1986 , “During the 1966 crisis when Obote was quarreling with Mutesa, Obote’s army massacred many people. If Mutesa is having a political quarrel with Obote, what does the population have to do with it and why kill them? I do not agree with the proverb that when two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. If the people are rioting you can arrest them and put them in prison. The government has a lot of power to deal with rioting people and means to control crowds without killing them.

    Both of these were said by Y. K. Museveni but am sure not even he himself would recognise them now!

  12. rob

    July 19, 2012 at 11:31

    If you listen carefully to Mr president u will notice that
    may be he forgot every he said during the early 90’s.
    He is taking everything for granted. But we know time will come and i know we shall regain our rights.


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