Though the two remained on different paths about the direction of politics of the country, President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has expressed sorrow and lauded late Democratic Party leader Dr. Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere.
Dr. Ssemogerere was laid to rest at the family ancestral home at Nattale, Nkumba in Wakiso district on Monday.
Museveni in a message read for him by the Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja at the burial made fond statements about the late and the party he led but also expressed sadness that Ssemogerere had in 1996 forsaken his “national Unity government.”
The President who sent a personal condolence of twenty million shillings to the family, said in a written message that inspite of their differences, Ssemogerere and DP did not “disrupt” nor go “subversive.” The deceased served under Museveni since the latter’s overthrow of Tito Okello Lutwa’s regime in 1986 under what was named the national movement but critics attacked as a one party state.
Ssemogerere decamped later promising to free political parties once elected but lost the 1996 presidential poll to Museveni.
Amid protestations from mourners, most of them opposition sympathisers, the President extolled recent alliance with DP and UPC, for which he said Ssemogerere (was not in support of the relationship) still had an immense contribution to make inspite of age.
The pacifist died on Friday at ninety years but was at the helm of arrangements for an opposition led national unity conference slated for January 16th, 2023. Museveni said he first got to know the late Ssemogerere in 1961 when he, together with then class mates advocate John Kawanga and late Eria Kategaya, as students at Ntare School invited the latter to give a talk to their student political grouping.
Museveni said though they had a third line of thinking that latter crystalised into the NRM, they admired DP’s principles on national unity and the politics at Mengo as opposed to UPC that always said one thing and did the other.
Earlier on Nabbanja had taken time to respond to attacks by National Unity Platform leader Robert Kyagulanyi who amid ululations had told mourners he was the elected president of Uganda, having allegedly won the 2021 presidential poll he said was rigged by General Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
Likening Museveni to Milton Obote who he said rigged the 1980 general election against Ssemogerere, Kyagulanyi said the former had done the same against him in most recent presidential elections of 2021. He reported of the recent abduction and disappearance of his supporter one Jamshid Kavuma sixteen days ago by security operatives and intimated this friend may disappear forever like the late legislator Jolly Joy Kiwanuka of the 1960s.
Kiwanuka was father to the current Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka who Kyagulanyi accused of defending murders and disappearances of Ugandans under the current regime. Kyagulanyi also disclosed he, Dr Kizza Besigye and Maj General Mugisha Muntu had been forced to take their forces of change meeting to Nairobi because they are unsafe in Uganda.
But Nabbanja dismissed reports of insecurity and rights abuse saying, this was reason Kyagulanyi could pour out his heart in this way without any fear.
Nabbanja also dismissed Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago’s accusation yesterday that government had not recognized the late Sseogerere as a hero, an accusation made yesterday during the requiem service at Lubaga Cathederal.
Conspicuously missing from the funeral was DP president general, Nobert Mao who adherents accuse of having sold the party to NRM for silver coins when he entered a cooperation agreement with President Museveni last July. In return he was appointed minister of Justice while Secretary general Dr. Gerald Siranda was seconded to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) by the ruling NRM.