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Uganda mourns Godfrey Binaisa

By Vision Reporter

Added 6th August 2010 03:00 AM

FORMER President Godfrey Lukongwa Binaisa has died. The 90-year-old passed away in his sleep at his home in Kizungu Zone, a leafy, quiet area of Makindye, a suburb of Kampala.

FORMER President Godfrey Lukongwa Binaisa has died. The 90-year-old passed away in his sleep at his home in Kizungu Zone, a leafy, quiet area of Makindye, a suburb of Kampala.

By Herbert Ssempogo
and Joyce Namutebi

FORMER President Godfrey Lukongwa Binaisa has died. The 90-year-old passed away in his sleep at his home in Kizungu Zone, a leafy, quiet area of Makindye, a suburb of Kampala.

He passed on between 3:00am and 6:00am yesterday, his nurse said. The man who led Uganda from June 20, 1979 to May 12, 1980, had diabetes.

Binaisa becomes the second former Ugandan president to die in the country. The other was Gen. Tito Okello Lutwa, who ruled from July 26, 1985 to January 26, 1986, when Predent Yoweri Museveni took over power.

Binaisa’s family, according to their lawyer Erias Lukwago, wants him buried at Kololo where two other decorated heroes, Prof. Yusuf Kironde Lule and Ignatius Musaazi, are buried. Lule was Binaisa’s predecessor and the first chairperson of the National Resistance Movement.

Musaazi founded the first national political party, the Uganda National Congress, in 1952.

Lukwago said he will move a motion in Parliament to have Binaisa buried in Kololo. “I have discussed the matter with the Speaker,” he said.

Issa Kimera, a nurse from Bedside Services, which cares for the elderly, said Binaisa had lately been happy. He went to bed at about 7:00pm after supper. “As a routine, I went to check on him at three in the morning. He lay in his bed face up,” Kimera recalled.

“Are you ok?” Binaisa, a lawyer, asked Kimera, who responded in the affirmative. “Where is my Nalongo?” he inquired in reference to Kimera’s colleague, Christine Naguddi, who took care of him in daytime.

Kimera informed Binaisa that Naguddi would report for duty later. The former head of state then went back to sleep. It was the last time he spoke to the nurse.

Kimera woke up at 6:00am, prayed and proceeded to Binaisa’s room. Something was wrong, he sensed.

“He lay in the same posture where I left him at 3:00am. I touched him. His right side was cold. There was no life. I called his daughter Nakalema and Dr. Mayanja.

Before he breathed his last, Naguddi disclosed, Binaisa’s condition was not good. It was why they had taken him to Dr. Mayanja’s Victoria Medical Centre in Kampala on Monday. He was scheduled for a second visit yesterday.

The body was transported i
n an ambulance to Mulago Hospital yesterday for a post-mortem examination.

“It is God’s decision. There is nothing we can do about it,” Nakalema, who fought back tears, said.

His niece, Hajati Sarah Bagalaaliwo, described Binaisa as “an honest, people person who worked for the nation diligently”.

Amos Lugolobi, a neighbour, remembered him as a good friend with whom he discussed development issues.

“He had too much information about Uganda. I hope someone cared to archive it somewhere because it was beneficial to the current generation,” Lugolobi told journalists.

The area defence secretary, Ibrahim Bageya, recollected that Binaisa once contributed sh500,000 to the tarmacking of a road in the area. He also paid two security guards’ salary for six months at sh40,000 per month each.

“He told us that being a president was stressful. He said managing the army was very hard,” Bageya recollected.

Binaisa idolised President Yoweri Museveni for managing the army, he said.

The Government said Binaisa died of cardiac arrest. A State funeral was being arranged, Fred Opolot, the head of the Media Centre, said in a statement yesterday.

At Parliament, deputy Speaker Rebecca Kadaga announced the death to the few MPs who attended the morning session.

“With regret, I inform you of the death of the former President of Uganda, Godfrey Lukongwa Binaisa,” she said.

“We passed a law on the death of past leaders. I trust the Government will get in touch with the family. For now, we observe a minute of silence in his honour,” Kadaga said as MPs rose to their feet and bowed their heads.

Outside the chambers, Prime Minister Prof. Apolo Nsibambi hailed Binaisa for leading the country at “the most difficult of times when the army was indisciplined”.

He said he did not wage war against the Government when he was deposed after he tried to shuffle the army.

“He was humble, sociable and gregarious,” Nsibambi remarked.
“When he left the highest office, he went to the UK and practised law. He was a Queens Counsel, the highest rank of law under the Commonwealth.

“He showed that when you occupy the highest office, when you leave, you can do something else.”

Several years after the death of his first wife, Binaisa in 2004 married a Japanese woman, Yamamoto. But the fairy-tale marriage collapsed in 2005. Binaisa is survived by six children, four of whom are based outside the country.

Late in the afternoon yesterday, Binaisa’s home was quiet except for the many senior Police officers who had camped there.

Among them were the Mobile Patrol Unit chief, Christopher Abache, the Kampala South boss, Moses Kafeero as well as the acting commissioner of traffic and road safety, Basil Mugisha.

At a glance
Born in 1920 to Canon Ananiya and Naome Binaisa

Studied at Makerere College School and Kings College Budo

Qualified as a lawyer in UK in 1955
Became a member of the bar at Lincoln’s Inn in 1956

Joined UNC, UCP and later UPC between 1955-1962

Named Uganda’s first Attorney General in 1962

Helped create the 1967 Constitution
Left government work and started a law firm in 1969

Went into exile in 1972, after Obote was overthrown by Amin

Worked as lawyer in London and US between 1972 and 1979

Returned to Uganda after Amin was overthrown in 1979

President of Uganda in June 1979

Lost the presidency in May 1980 after 11 months in the office

Went back in exile in the US until 2001 when he returned

Married Japanese woman, Yamamoto in 2004 and separated with her in 2005

Uganda mourns Godfrey Binaisa

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