On Tuesday May 24th 2022, the people of Buganda and Uganda in general, shall mark the 56th anniversary of the invasion of Lubiri by Uganda Army Special Forces under the command of the then Army Chief of Staff Col. Idi Amin Dada on the orders of the then President Dr. Apollo Milton Obote.
According to the first President of Uganda and then Kabaka of Buganda Sir Edward Muteesa (by the time the invasion took place, Muteesa was no longer President as Obote, who had been initially a Prime Minister, had abolished the 1962 Independence Constitution and had imposed the 1966 pigeon hole constitution and declared himself President).
Obote had ordered Amin to capture Muteesa dead or alive. Muteesa managed to escape narrowly and went into exile in United Kingdom via Burundi.There will be prayers according Katikkiro of Buganda Charles Peter Mayiga at Namirembe Cathedral.
The first time such an occasion was held in Lubiri barracks in 1996 following the first ever direct presidential election in Uganda where the Kabaka invited President Yoweri Museveni as the chief guest. The then JEEMA party President Muhammad Kibirige Mayanja was present.
On that occasion, the President promised that soon the army will shift to Bombo barracks and the Lubiri would be in the hands of the Kabaka.
This promise was in accordance with the EBYAFFE law of 1993 under which traditional institutions were restored and their legitimate property including Lubiri, Bulange and other palaces and royal tombs were returned to Buganda.
In 1992 a resolution had been drawn in Gulu barracks presided over by President Museveni where the army accepted the restoration of traditional institutions and return of their property, and left to the national Resistance Council, which was the parliament of the day, to amend 1967 republican constitution and pass the law and hence Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi ll was crowned on Saturday July 31st 1993 at Naggalabi Buddo, an occasion that was telecast live.
By December 1997, the army had withdrawn from Lubiri which it had occupied since 1966 and it was named Malire barracks (Malire a Luo word meaning booty) and Bulange was named Republic House which was the Ministry of Defence and Uganda Armed Forces General Headquarters, Kabakanjagala Road was named Republic Road and Kabaka’s Lake was named Republic’s lake.
Both Muteesa and Obote’s admirers and critiques have spoken and written about the 1966 crisis, where each justifies their position and which l should not bore readers with repeating them.
However, while appearing on BUKEDDE TV l Akabbinkano moderated by Charles Serugga Matovu, Katikkiro was hopeful that Buganda and other federalists in future will achieve a federal form of government but avoided a compromise position reached with the President that was put in 2005 constitutiinal amendments- the regional government, devolution of power from the center to the regions in a quasi-federal arrangement as it is the case in UK, South Africa and Kenya among others.
A former parliamentarian and journalist Luke Kazinja, when Editor of The Star newspaper, where l was a trainee reporter, had told me in the early nineties, that despite how it was brought, the 1966 constitution was the best at the time. It never abolished a federal status enjoyed by the kingdom of Buganda and semi federal status by enjoyed by kingdoms of Bunyoro, Ankole and Tooro and the territory of Busoga. It never centralized power from the 10 districts and Mbale township.
What it did was to neutralize the special status of the kingdom of Buganda, which had turned into a target, barring traditional leaders from participating in partisan politics. According to Kazinja, had Obote stopped there, probably things would have been better.
As we mark 56 years, there are many challenges where as Uganda, we should never have a repeat of 1966. Sometime back in 2009, Bugerere riots almost led us back, and the recent Kasese saga was almost similar. However, President Museveni’s NRM Government and UPDF leadership handled it better compared to how Obote, UPC and the army handled the same crisis in 1966.
One of the challenges is to do with land and environment. If a Buganda and other regional governments are not restored, is it justifiable for Official Mailo estates to be given to the traditional institutions yet they were preserved since 1900 for local administration services? Should local governments in Buganda be chased from those estates and the tax payer who built the old ones is given a burden to build new ones or both the traditional institution and the local government can coexist on those estates. If the referendum in lost counties sparked off the 1966 crisis, how far has Buganda and the center gone in solving in disputes in autonomous areas like the chiefdom of Kooki which are prevailing now? Food for thought.
Haji Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi is a veteran journalist and a Deputy Resident City Masaka in charge of Kimaanya Kabonera Division.
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