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For Whom does Besigye’s Bell Toll!

Ofwono Opondo

Jan, 4, 17

In 1624, English poet, John Donne, wrote ”No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.”
This poem has found relevance from which others later coined “For whom the bell tolls,” and I would want use it to illustrate where Uganda has travelled since 2001 when Kizza Besigye first came to the prominent scene as leader of opposition, and the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).
Having lost many times, Besigye became the perfect surrogate for foreign interests who hate NRM and President Yoweri Museveni’s long rule, and would like to remove him in any form, provided it won’t cause collateral damages as in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Egypt. Sub-Saharan Africa, viewed from Somalia, CAR, DRC, Sudan, South Sudan and Burundi would be a nightmare to them.
The on-going events in the Rwenzori sub-region, and Kasese district in particular, may appear removed from Besigye’s political struggles in Kampala that he had tried to make his centre of gravity for years, and failed, because, by its nature, Kampala has many interests, and it is not easy to hide sinister motives, especially when there is peace, security and people are making good money.
Having gained the political foothold through elections in Kasese district, Besigye has been working with elements there including the Obusinga Bwa Rwenzururu, to shift his centre of gravity, cause a flare up similar to what armed dissidents did in Benghazi, Libya in 2010. This group, had hoped that with the Obusinga offering a cultural-royalty cover, they would recruit, train, and infiltrate cross-border armed groups to use Kasese and eastern DRC as their launch pad. The talk of Yiira republic while not completely idle, was just another additional cover.
It should be recalled that Besigye having lost elections, sounded war drums, fled into exile, returned in 2005, and has made riotous disobedience, including the walk-to-work, and the on-going defiance campaign, the central plank of his politicking. In all these, Besigye hoped to provoke state security institutions into extra-legal responses, and hence the current petition to the International Criminal Court (ICC) by the four FDC MPs from Kasese. The ‘people’s government network’ Besigye announced recently, while simultaneously calling for a ‘national dialogue’ mediated by an international ‘neutral’ person, is part of the grand plan, and intended to project false strength. This was the same script used against Saddam Hussein, Muamar Gadafi, Hosni Mubarak, and is currently being tried on Bashad El Assad. So far, Besigye hasn’t got an international election audit, over results he disputed, even when he lost
Having concluded they cannot directly confront the NRM, Besigye and cohorts zeroed of what they consider regime’s other centres of gravity-the economy, peace and stability, security institutions especially army, police and intelligence, hoping to isolate these from the population through constant denigration.  Having failed to infiltrate or isolate these institutions, they have now drawn up a list of slices, mainly specific officials like Kale Kayihura, Brig. Peter Elwelu and ADIGP Asuman Mugyenyi in the hope to isolate them from the main force and scare the others who still work with President Museveni. On this, I want to state that we shall be very firm, and they won’t succeed.
Besigye, and his followers seem once again in 2017 missing Uganda’s main course of economic development and progress. Generally, public infrastructure of energy, transport, water, education and health have gotten expansive, better and reaching more people sustainably, except it is only Besigye who seem not to notice. The last quarter of 2016 saw new vigour in Uganda’s oilfields, and petroleum sector as the government issued production licences to oil companies, setting the stage for activities that will lead to production, and into the market. The licenced areas have 5.4bn barrels of the 6.5bn barrels overall.
The accelerated activities include technical work in the fields, construction of the pipeline, a refinery, and central processing facilities (CPF) to store unwanted matter separated from crude oil and gas before transportation to the refinery or pipeline. These huge investments will ease the cost of, and boost both internal and regional trade, movement of goods, labour, capital and cross-border businesses, and focus on market access, create jobs and revenue. And so, the discourse is changing on how Uganda, and especially local communities for which Besigye purports to speak will benefit, but, instead, he appears to be mobilizing for rebellion.
By presenting Museveni as the existential threat, these progressive utopians fascinate, demonstrating the disappointments that come as the price of losing elections in a democracy. They display lies, and fantasies, they can no longer sustain, and older ones, see no path for their redemption. This is why their campaigns have reduced to nothing, but fear-mongering and scapegoating.