Cablegate: Museveni Blames Buganda, Opposition, and Foreigners For

DE RUEHKM #1075/01 2601412
R 171412Z SEP 09



E.O. 12958: N/A

Ref: A. KAMPALA 01044, B. KAMPALA 01055

1. (SBU) Summary: In a two-hour speech to Parliament on September
15, Uganda's President Museveni blamed the opposition, the Buganda
Kingdom, and foreign "meddlers" for the riots that killed 24 people
from 10-13 September (reftels). The President defended the actions
of security forces, reinforced police directives to shoot rioters on
sight, and announced a series of new legislative reforms designed to
better define and limit the power of traditional Kingdoms. End

Museveni: It Ain't Me

2. (U) President Museveni delivered a two-hour address to Parliament
on September 15, ostensibly to respond to the riots that wracked
greater Kampala September 10-13 (reftels). The wide ranging and
largely extemporaneous speech touched on Museveni's disdain for
homosexuality, whether President Obama speaks an African language,
and the history of the Buganda Kingdom. Museveni blamed the Baganda
for the violence and loss of life during last week's riots.
Accusing the Buganda King, or "Kabaka", of "meddling in politics",
Museveni said he could not be held responsible for the "misbehavior
of the traditional institutions". He then announced plans to
introduce legislation to limit their influence by consolidating
regional power into the central government.

3. (U) Museveni also blamed opposition parties, the Buganda-run
Central Broadcasting System (CBS) radio, and "foreign meddlers" for
the disturbances. He singled out his main political rival, Dr.
Kizza Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), whom he
accused of involvement in the riots. Museveni accused the Buganda
Kingdom of receiving funds from unnamed "foreign agents" to fight
his regime, and announced impending legislation to require
traditional leaders to declare foreign sources of income.

4. (U) Acknowledging the economic grievances of the rioters,
Museveni revealed plans to create jobs for urban youth by dedicating
$15 million for investment in various cottage industries. He
described Uganda's rapidly growing population of uneducated,
unemployed, and landless urban youth as a "blessing in disguise" and
the beginning of an urban working class. The President also said
the government would compensate those who lost property during the
riots and assist relatives of those who died.

5. (U) Museveni defended security forces against allegations of
excessive use of force and reiterated that police are authorized to
shoot any rioters who attack other people or the police. This point
was underlined in a September 16 briefing for foreign Ambassadors by
Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa and Inspector General of Police
(IGP) Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura. Kutesa and Kayihura stressed that
security forces had shown restraint given the size of the riot, the
involvement of unemployed youth and criminal classes, and evidence
of prior planning by some rioters. Kayihura apologized to the
diplomatic corps for the disturbance and noted that if allegations
of police firing live bullets into crowds were true, there would
have been many more civilian casualties (septel).

Opposition Calls for Investigation

6. (U) Prior to attacking FDC President Besigye in his speech,
Museveni had announced earlier in the day the arrest of Democratic
Party (DP) spokesperson Betty Nambooze for inciting violence. "We
are going to arrest Nambooze and the rest," Museveni said while
touring a police post burnt during the riots. "I know they are in
hiding but we will arrest them."

7. (U) Speaking to the press from a local hospital where he was
visiting injured riots victims, Besigye called for a government
inquiry into the riots and those responsible for shooting civilians.
"We want the government to institute an inquiry," said Besigye,
"and to get the people involved in this heinous crime."

Buganda Won't Back Down

8. (U) Meanwhile, Buganda's Deputy Information Minister, Medard
Ssegona, said neither Museveni's speech nor last week's riots will
alter the calculations of the Kingdom. Ssegona decried attempts to
hamper the King's travel within his own realm and criticized the
actions of Ugandan security forces. "We expected the President to
convince us instead of coercing us," said Ssegona. "What the
President is doing now is a game of might as opposed to logic and


KAMPALA 00001075 002 OF 002

State of the Nation: Tense

9. (SBU) Comment: Although the rioting has stopped, tensions remain
high in Kampala. Likely surprised by the sudden ferocity of last
week's riots, Museveni is working to put the ethnic Baganda genie
back in its bottle, both through new legislation and his usual tough
rhetoric. The conflict pitting Museveni's government against the
Buganda Kingdom will thus continue. The hope now is that both sides
will have the wisdom to keep their fight in the political arena and
not take it into the streets.


© Scoop Media

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