President Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni has said he was unmoved when members of his campaign team told him the news of the outbreak of protests over the arrest of National Unity Platform (NUP) presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine.
Protests began minutes after police arrested Bobi Wine in Luuka District for flouting Covid19 prevention guidelines.
On that 18th day of November, Museveni had three meetings: one with his ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) Central Executive Committee (CEC) in Gulu City, another with party leaders in Moroto and the last with youth leaders.
Ahead of the president’s meeting with NRM leaders, protests broke out over the arrest of Bobi Wine.
The president has now revealed what he did the moment he learnt of the protests that claimed over 45 people.
“I was going for a meeting like this and they told me that something was happening in Kampala,” Museveni told party leaders in Mbale in one of his recent campaign meetings.
The aides advised Museveni to ring Kampala and issue orders, most likely to security agencies, to help quell the protests.
The aides, seemingly in panic, even asked the head of state to stop his campaigns.
In his account to NRM leaders, Museveni noted he was confident the security agencies would handle the protesters.
“I said [to the aides advising me to ring Kampala and stop campaigns] ‘I won’t interrupt my plans [because of] that nonsense.’ I said, ‘they [security agencies] will handle them [rioters].”
The killings from November 18 and 19 protests were the worst in recent years, with analysts comparing them to those from the 2016 Rwenzururu Crisis where security agencies raided the kingdom’s palace.
The protests happened barely two months to the January 14, 2021 election.
Museveni, in power since 1986 when he ascended to the country’s top office after a five-year bush war, is seeking to extend his rule to four decades.
He is facing two of his bush war comrades Maj Gen (Rtd) Gregg Mugisha Muntu of the Alliance for National Transformation (ANT), and Lt Gen (Rtd) Henry Kakurugu Tumukunde.
Other opponents include Patrick Oboi Amuriat of main opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Norbert Mao of Democratic Party (DP), Bobi Wine, Joseph Kiiza Kabuleta, John Katumba, Willy Mayambala, Fred Mwesigye and Nancy Kalembe.
Muntu, Tumukunde and Mao were some of the candidates who had suspended their campaigns over the protests.