By Madinah Tebajjukira and Amisi Lubwama
Prime Minister Apolo Nsibambi was yesterday blocked by the Forum for Democratic Change supporters from delivering President Yoweri Museveniâ€™s condolences at the funeral prayers at Kibuli Mosque for Dr. Sulaiman Kiggundu.
Drama ensued when Nsibambi, the second-last speaker, was booed when he was invited to address the mourners.
The youth shouted â€˜Noâ€™ in protest. Some of them were wearing green T-shirts with the inscription: â€œGreenland Bank Group bids farewell to Dr. Sulaiman Kiggunduâ€.
â€œWho invited Nsibambi? The Government closed his bank. Why should it address us now?â€ some women shouted. The protesters also included activists from other political parties, including DP spokesperson Betty Nambooze.
Kiggunduâ€™s eldest son, Sula Kiggundu, pleaded in vain with the protestors to calm down. â€œMy father was a respectable and peaceful man. I donâ€™t want to send him off in a violent way. Let us allow our leader to talk,â€ he implored.
FDC President Kizza Besigye also intervened. â€œPlease, let us listen to our leader. Try to be calm and orderly. Let him respond to what has been raised,â€ he said.
In his address earlier, Besigye blasted the Government, saying Kiggunduâ€™s health deteriorated after he had been imprisoned.
In 2002, Kiggundu was remanded in Luzira Prison for six months for failing to pay back sh600m he owed Greenland Bank, where he was the managing director.
Greenland Bank was closed in 1998 over mismanagement as the bank had gone broke.
Kiggunduâ€™s trial on charges of causing financial loss hit a snag over procedural technicalities and was never concluded. When he came out of prison, he joined the opposition.
Upset over the incident, Nsibambi walked away, accompanied by his Police escorts. Contacted later, he blamed a â€œsmall group of hooligansâ€ for stage-managing the incident. â€œWhen I was walking away, sympathisers, especially family members, apologised. It is a pity that funeral ceremonies have been turned into political rallies,â€ Nsibambi said.
He added that he had handed over sh4m to Kiggunduâ€™s two widows as the funeral contribution from President Museveni.
This is not the first time a government official is blocked from addressing a funeral of an opposition figure.
Recently, minister Kahinda Otafiire was blocked from speaking at the burial of Winnie Makumbi, who was the Lubaga Division chairperson and DP members.
Sheik Kamulegeya, who said he was a relative of the deceased, attacked the Government over the closure of the defunct Greenland Bank.
He said the Government seized $11m when the bank was closed and demanded that it explains the reasons for the closure.
Speaker after speaker praised the deceased, saying he was generous, hard working and loved his culture and religion.
One of the widows, Rehemah, said the doctors in South Africa confirmed that Kiggundu had cancer. Sheik Twaha Kawasi, speaking on behalf of the defunct Greenland Group, said they were contemplating reviving the bank.
The prayers were attended by the Buganda Kingdom Katikkiro (prime minister), opposition party leaders, Bank of Uganda officials, Nabagereka (queen of Buganda) Sylvia Nagginda and hundreds of Muslims.
In his condolence message, Kabaka Ronald Mutebi expressed sorrow over Kiggunduâ€™s death.
â€œI have been deeply shocked and saddened by Kiggunduâ€™s death. He unreservedly worked for Buganda in many aspects,â€ he said in a message delivered by the Katikkiro.
Kiggundu, a former Bank of Uganda governor, died on Friday at Donald Gordon Hospital in South Africa, where he had been hospitalised with cancer and high blood pressure. He was buried yesterday at his home in Butambala, Mpigi district.
(Additional reporting by Joyce Namutebi and Moses Mulondo).