In this election alone, incumbent Museveni was challenged by three of his former allies including Mr Amama Mbabazi, Dr Kizza Besigye, and Maj Gen Benon Biraaro.
When Mbabazi was sacked on September 20 as prime minister, for unspecified reasons, most political commentators argued that the president’s decision would end the uncertainty that was eating into party members’ loyalty, and protect Museveni as a resolute leader.
Did Mbabazi see it coming?
Yet in 2008 during the famous Temangalo land scandal that painted Mbabazi as a corrupt official, President Museveni came out to defend him.
“I know very well that this NSSF land is not about Mbabazi but about the party and I will not sit back and see my party being destroyed,” Mr Museveni was quoted saying. “…Mbabazi is not a businessman. He is ever in office or handling my assignments. He does not know business.” In fact he said at the time that Mbabazi was a clean man and that he “is among the first ten” who would be president when he (Museveni) retires.
While prime minister, Mbabazi was always accused of being too busy being a prime minister to be an effective secretary general to the NRM party, but his real “crime” had been to remain electable and ambitious where others had given-up on their determinations and ambitions towards the top office.
Mbabazi was one of the historicals in the government: he served on the political wing of the Museveni led guerrilla war and has been with him for about four decades. While in the past he defended him, Museveni has recently opted to openly criticize Mbabazi. The first time was during an NRM caucus meeting when Museveni berated Mbabazi and the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, “[The late Eriya] Kategaya is more senior than Mbabazi when it comes to regional matters,” Museveni reportedly said.
Betrayed by my leader
The Museveni-Amama spectacular fall out, though widely reported, is not the only one Museveni has had. From 1986, the Movement has shed off more historical leaders. The first one, in 1999, was Besigye, a former personal doctor to Museveni.
Besigye argued that he abandoned his job as a medical doctor in Nairobi, Kenya, joining Museveni in the bush to help resist the Milton Obote oppressive regime. It was the best decision he has ever made, he has said.
Addressing his supporters at a rally, Besigye said, “I fell out with Museveni after telling him that we were not fulfilling what took us to the bush and led to the death of over 500,000 people in Luwero. When I wrote to Museveni in 1999 that we are diverting from our core mandate of fighting, he threatened to arrest me,” Besigye said. “I asked him why he intended to arrest me instead of discussing the points I was putting on the table. When he refused to listen, I decided to stand for president.”
So in 2001 he took his first swipe at the presidency and lost; two other attempts at the top job were futile. Besigye was later joined by Hon. Eriya Kategaya (RIP), a long-time ally to Museveni and a senior NRM official who fell out with Museveni when the president insisted on amending constitution to remove term limits.
In his famous memoir ‘Sowing the Mustard Seed,’ Museveni had praised Kategaya as “nationalist-minded” but, after falling out, Museveni would ask the fallen comrade: “Who are you? You are just a spoke in the wheel. You can go.”
After Kategaya was dropped as First Deputy Prime Minister in 2003, the lawyer went into private practice, before coming back again to his former position. Kategaya succumbed to thrombosis in 2013.
Ironically, Kategaya was one of the first people Besigye approached about Museveni’s shift from the ten cardinal NRM points famously known as the Ten Point Program. Besigye is said to have asked Kategaya so offer himself as president, but he was rubbed off as ‘mad’.
The story of General David Sejusa, a.k.a Tinyefuza is a rather complex one. Sejusa, currently in Luzira Prison, first fell out with Museveni in 1984 when he trashed his boss’s directive to have all female non-combatants vacate the operation zones during an offensive against Obote’s forces. He was detained for more than eight months in a trench. They made up.
In 1996, Gen Sejusa wrote a resignation letter to his boss after questioning the operational conduct of the army in its fight against rebels in northern Uganda. His plea, for which he apologised, was not considered. In 2004, he was appointed co-ordinator of intelligence agencies.
Sejusa loves letters. And in 2013, Sejusa wrote another controversial letter, calling for investigations into reports that top military officers, including the president’s brother, Gen Salim Saleh, had hatched a plot to eliminate senior government officials opposed to the ‘Muhoozi project.’ Brig Muhoozi Keinerugaba is president Museveni’s son, who is thought to be being groomed to succeed his father.
The letter’s excerpts, as published by Daily Monitor, later forced its author into exile in the United Kingdom. After 18 months in exile, he returned to the country where he is facing charges of involving himself in politics and making statements contrary to the code of conduct of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF).
For now, it is not clear whether and when the 62-year-old bush war comrade will be set free.
Just like Sejusa, Gen Mugisha Muntu, chairperson for the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party, fell out with Museveni because of the third term issue.
Now that Museveni won, as expected, who is next to fall out with him? That is the million dollar question.