Veteran politician Dr Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere has explained why he greatly respects four-time presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye.
The most pronounced opponents in the Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni regime, Ssemogerere and Besigye previously worked in the internal affairs ministry.
A presidential candidate in the 1980 poll the result of which prompted Museveni to go to the bush before capturing power five years later in 1986, Ssemogerere had led political Opposition in Parliament from 1981 through 1985.
He would then serve as internal affairs minister under Tito Okello Lutwa’s 1985-86 regime.
Incoming president Museveni would keep him in this docket until 1988 when he transferred him to the foreign affairs ministry until 1994, and to the public service ministry until 1995 when he resigned to challenge his boss in the 1996 presidential election.
When Ssemogerere served as internal affairs minister under the Museveni administration, Besigye was state minister for internal affairs.
Ssemogerere has admitted he and his junior minister Dr Besigye, Museveni’s personal physician during the bush war, had clear differences.
“We had ideological differences. He believed in NRA ideology and I believed in DP Ideology,” Ssemogerere told state broadcaster UBC in an interview.
Yet Besigye’s method of work earned him Ssemogerere’s respect.
“We worked together so well and I have the greatest respect for Besigye,” continued the former Democratic Party (DP) leader.
“When he realized that I took a firm position on any matter, he stood up and saluted me and we moved on.”
Besigye would later tell Ssemogerere how their good working relationship was rare among Museveni’s first cabinet.
“Later, we were both transfered, where I went to Foreign Affairs and he (Besigye) went to President’s office,” recalled Ssemogerere.
“I telephoned him and thanked him for our good working relationship. He replied that it seems we are the only Ministers that had a good working relationship.”
Besigye later fell out with Museveni, challenging him in four presidential polls from 2001 to 2016.