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Obote was a smart manipulator

By Vision Reporter

Added 18th April 2005 03:00 AM

SIR — I have read the serialised article “Milton Obote: my story” published by The Monitor . It is a political autobiography but also an apologia and defence where Obote hardly concedes anything that he has been held responsible for. It is right for him to put his own side of the story, though

SIR — I have read the serialised article “Milton Obote: my story” published by The Monitor . It is a political autobiography but also an apologia and defence where Obote hardly concedes anything that he has been held responsible for. It is right for him to put his own side of the story, though perhaps we will hear nothing that we do not know already.

In my opinion, Obote needs to be judged against the situation that he inherited from the colonial era. The picture he paints for himself is that of a consistent champion of multiparty democracy and of the rule of law — someone who eschewed use of the military in maintaining himself in power.

He presents Idi Amin and Yoweri Museveni as men who have used violence to take and maintain themselves in power. In fact, however, the only major party that has consistently eschewed military means is the Democratic Party (DP).

The two dominant elements in Uganda’s politics since independence have been manipulation and manoeuvre, and Obote was a genius in these. The objects of manipulation have been ‘the people’ (as a faction, as tribes, religions, and youths), parliament, the judiciary, and the electoral process.

The military (army, special forces) have been used for purposes of manoeuvre. In Museveni, Obote met his match. Presidents like Yusuf Lule and Godfrey Binaisa not to mention Tito Okello who were poor at manoeuvring did not last long.

Obote, counting on his popularity and capacity to manoeuvre did not realise the power of former youthful UPC cadres who had become opposed to his legacy and tactics.

He miscalculated when he thought to stage a heroic comeback against the forces arraigned against him, especially in Buganda.

The NRA may have done their own killings in Luwero — including of some innocent people — but the UNLA pursued a scotched earth policy, killing civilians on an unprecedented scale.

It would be more realistic for Obote to admit that during his second administration the army was really out of his control.

The Rev Amos Kasibante
Leicester, UK

Obote was a smart manipulator

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