The National Unity Platform (NUP) party president Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu has said that they will not negotiate with President Yoweri Museveni to secure the release of their detained supporters.
It should be remembered that prior to and after the 2021 general elections, several youthful NUP supporters have been arrested on various allegations. Some are still in detention to date while some were released only to return with hollowing tales of torture while in detention.
Speaking on Thursday at NUP headquarters at Makerere-Kavule while commissioning the NUP mobilizing committees dubbed ‘Kunga’ intended to mobilize NUP support at all levels across the country, Kyagulanyi said there is no way they can negotiate with the government to secure their God-given fundamental rights.
Following the release of Makindye West MP Allan Ssewanyana and Kawempe North MP, Muhammad Ssegirinya last week after over 523 days in prison, allegations started circulating that the duo was released after negotiations between the leader of opposition in parliament Mathias Mpuuga and the government.
Kyagulanyi said he has talked to Mpuuga in private and he has categorically denied ever being part of the said negotiations. Ssewanyana and Ssegirinya are accused of being behind the machete attacks that claimed over 26 lives in Masaka region. They are also facing terrorism charges.
“Our two MPs and 100s of other political prisoners are innocent. They were illegally detained, so if anyone took part and please quote me. If anyone took part in any talks with Museveni that was not with our knowledge or endorsement. And if any promises were made, those promises were fake promises. Mr Museveni, if anybody spoke to you claiming to represent NUP, you were conned…I have spoken to the leader of opposition being the head of our front in parliament about the allegations and he has trashed them just like he has trashed them publicly and he has said until concrete evidence to the same is provided, we shall still consider that as regime propaganda. We should be careful not to allow Museveni ladies and gentlemen to sow seeds of mistrust amongst us because that’s what he wants to do. That’s what he did to DP, that’s what he did to FDC and that’s what he wants to do to us,” said Kyagulanyi.
Former presidential candidate and Kimanya-Kabonera MP Dr Abed Bwanika has been at the forefront of urging his NUP party to agree to a negotiated settlement in order to release all political prisoners. Bwanika and Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Norbert Mao have claimed that the talks that secured the release of Ssewanyana and Ssegirinya happened with the full knowledge of President Museveni.
However, Kyagulanyi said while they are open to dialogue, this can only happen when the exit of Museveni who has been in power for more than 36 years is the first on the agenda. He said any discussions and compromises with Museveni still in power, cannot be fruitful.
“I have also read in the media that there were negotiations with dictator Museveni such that our comrades Ssegirinya and Ssewanyana can have their freedom back, and this I will say. While we have always been open to constructive dialogue with anybody, our question has always been what kind of dialogue and with who and about what? We made it clear that we’re open to transparent and genuine dialogue which has a clear agenda and that agenda ladies and gentlemen, has to include transition from a military dictatorship to democracy,” said Kyagulanyi.
“The first thing on the agenda, that dialogue if it is to be there, is when is Museveni leaving and the answer must be; immediately then there we open talks. If any dialogue doesn’t include stopping dictatorship and freeing our country then we can’t talk to Museveni. We cannot be part of a dialogue with Museveni because what Museveni wants is to use us as wheelbarrows and we’re not wheelbarrows so we’re not have no dialogue with Museveni. We have not, and shall not take part in any dialogue because we don’t discuss our fundamental human rights. Those are enshrined in the constitution. We cannot start discussing with Museveni whether he will allow us to be human beings or not,” he added.
Meanwhile Mpuuga asked the NUP supporters to stop spreading fake news and first verify all their claims from the party’s hierarchy. He further asked the NUP supporters to also respect their leaders if they are to get what they are fighting for.
“Any struggle without a plan and respect of commanders is bound to lose track even if it commands mass support like NUP.” He said
Kyagulanyi also re-echoed NUP’s call to the government security agencies to release their party supporters who have been illegally arrested.
According to Kyagulanyi, there is a renewed wave of abductions of the NUP supporters and the latest victims are Khalid Ssebi, Kabuga Alex, Yasin Ssebunya, and Fred Kagimu who were allegedly picked from Nakaseke, and Mubiru Saddamu Sadat who was allegedly picked from Salaama road. He said this while welcoming Geoffrey Onjima alias Tawa who was allegedly abducted on February 7 and released on Wednesday.
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