US embassy cable - 86KAMPALA745

MUSEVENI'S "BANNING" OF POLITICAL ACTIVITY - MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.

Identifier: 86KAMPALA745
Wikileaks: View 86KAMPALA745 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Kampala
Created: 1986-03-14 11:49:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PHUM PREL SCOM UG
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
O R 141149Z MAR 86
FM AMEMBASSY KAMPALA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3694
INFO AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM
AMEMBASSY KIGALI
AMEMBASSY BUJUMBURA
AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
AMEMBASSY LONDON
AMEMBASSY PARIS
USCINCEUR VAIHINGEN GE
USIA WASHDC 2537
SECDEF WASHDC
USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KAMPALA 00745 
 
 
E.O. 12356: DECL:OADR 
TAGS:  PGOV PHUM PREL SCOM UG 
SUBJECT:  MUSEVENI'S "BANNING" OF POLITICAL ACTIVITY - 
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING. 
 
REF:  STATE 76433 
 
1.  CONFIDENTIAL - ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
2.  SUMMARY:  LOCAL, NAIROBI, AND US MEDIA HAVE CARRIED 
STORIES RECENTLY TO THE EFFECT THAT PRESIDENT MUSEVENI 
HAS BANNED ALL POLITICAL ACTIVITY.  THESE REPORTS APPARENTLY 
STEM FROM OFF HAND REMARKS MADE BY THE PRESIDENT AT A 
MARCH 4 CEREMONY SWEARING IN NEW LOCAL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS; 
THEY ARE CONSISTENT WITH MUSEVENI'S PREVIOUS STATEMENTS 
DISTAINING PARTISAN POLITICS, AND DO NOT CONSTITUTE A 
LEGAL BANNING, AS WE SEE IT.  MUSEVENI'S ULTIMATE 
OBJECTIVE REGARDING POLITICAL PARTIES REMAINS UNCLEAR; 
AS INSTITUTIONS THEY CONTINUE TO EXIST BUT ARE DISCOURAGED 
FROM PARTISAN ACTIVITY   END SUMMARY. 
 
3.  ON TUESDAY MARCH 4 PRESIDENT MUSEVENI BRIEFED UGANDA'S 
TWENTY-FOUR NEWLY APPOINTED SPECIAL DISTRICT ADMINISTRATORS 
(SDAS) ON THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES.  PART OF THE BRIEFING 
CONTAINED REMARKS ON POLITICAL PARTIES.  FOLLOWING IS 
RELEVANT PORTION OF THE OFFICIAL MINISTRY OF INFORMATION 
SYNOPSIS OF MUSEVENI'S REMARKS. 
 
4.  BEGIN UNCLASSIFIED TEST:  ON A SERIOUS NOTE, MR. MUSEVENI 
SAID THAT IT HAS COME TO HIS NOTICE THAT SOME OF THOSE UGANDANS 
WHO BROUGHT RUIN TO THIS BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY ARE BENT TO CAUSE 
TROUBLE AGAIN FOR THE PEOPLE OF UGANDA.  HE HOWEVER WARNED 
THAT BY DOING SO THEY WILL GIVE THE NRM A WELCOME CHANCE 
TO CRUSH FOREVER WHAT HE CALLED THESE GOOD-FOR-NOTHING 
ELEMENTS.  PRESIDENT MUSEVENI POINTED OUT THAT SUCH ELEMENTS 
HAVE ABUSED THE NRM'S HIGH SENSE OF MAGNAMITY, AND TOTALLY 
MISCONCEIVED ITS GOOD MORAL SENSE FOR WEAKNESS.  THE SDAS 
WERE CALLED UPON TO SEE THAT SUCH APPARENT MISCONCEPTION 
IS ERASED AND THAT SUCH BANKRUPT, AND MISGUIDED POLITICIANS 
ARE EXPOSED AND DENIED GROUND TO NURTURE AGAIN.  MR MUSEVENI 
CAUTIONED THE SDAS NOT TO MAKE PUBLIC STATEMENTS AGAINST 
NRM ALLIES WITHIN THE BROAD-BASED GOVERNMENT AND THOSE 
OUTSIDE IT.  HE CHARGED THEM WITH THE RESPONSIBILITY OF 
IMPROVING THE NATIONAL CHARACTER OF THE BROAD-BASED GOVERN- 
MENT AND BY ALL MEANS DESIST FROM CAUSING UNWELCOME 
DISRUPTIONS.  ON THE APPARENT PUBLIC MEETINGS AND RALLIES 
BEING OVERTLY OR COVERTLY CONDUCTED BY AGENTS OF THE OLD 
POLITICAL PARTIES, THE PRESIDENT DIRECTED THAT VARIOUS 
LEADERS RESPONSIBLE FOR THESE PARTIES SHOULD SUSPEND 
FORTHWITH SUCH MEETINGS AND RALLIES.  THIS DIRECTIVE 
HE SAID HAS IN CONSIDERATION THE CURRENT MILITARY SITUATION 
AS IT IS OF NOW IN UGANDA AND THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE 
MINIMUM POLITICAL PROGRAMME IN THIS INTERIM PERIOD 
MR. MUSEVENI STRESSED THAT THE SUSPENSION OF OVERT OR 
COVERT PARTY MEETINGS AND RALLIES DOES NOT MEAN AT ALL 
THAT POLITICAL PARTIES ARE BANNED BUT IT MERELY SUSPENDS 
POLITICAL PARTY ACTIVITIES WHICH AT THE MOMENT WOULD DELAY 
OR COMPLETELY ARREST UGANDA FROM REGAINING STABILITY 
THE ONLY PUBLIC MEETINGS PERMITTED WILL BE THOSE GEARED TO 
ENHANCE NATIONAL UNITY AS ADVOCATED IN THE FRAMEWORK OF 
THE NATIONAL RESISTANCE MOVEMENT.  HE SAID UGANDANS 
SHOULD UNDERSTAND THAT NRM WAS NOT CONCEIVED TO BE A POLITICAL 
PARTY BUT A MOVEMENT OF ALL UGANDANS WHO GOT CONCERNED ABOUT 
THEIR MOTHERLAND AND TOOK ACTION TO BRING TO A STOP AND 
CAUSE ABOUT (SIC) CHANGE OF COURSE AWAY FROM THE ROAD 
LEADING TO DESTRUCTION AND DISINTEGRATION BACK TO THE ROAD 
OF STABILITY AND DEVELOPMENT.  END UNCLASSIFIED TEXT. 
 
5.  MUSEVENI'S REMARKS WERE CARRIED ON UGANDA RADIO, AND 
HAVE BEEN GIVEN WIDE PLAY IN LOCAL, NAIROBI, AND U.S. MEDIA 
(FOR LAST SEE "CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR" SYNOPSIS OF 
REFTEL), ALL EMPHASIZING THE "BANNING OF POLITICAL ACITIVTY " 
 
6.  COMMENT:  MUSEVENI'S REMARKS IN FACT DO NOT GO ANY FURTHER 
THAN PREVIOUS STATEMENTS ON THE ISSUE OF PARTISAN POLITICS 
MUSEVENI HAS MADE NO SECRET THAT HE REGARDS PARTISAN POLITICS 
AS ONE OF THE CAUSES OF ONGOING TURMOIL IN UGANDA BECAUSE 
THE PARTIES ARE BASED, BY HIS LIGHTS, ON ATAVISTIC ETHNIC 
AND RELIGIOUS CLEAVAGES   FOR THIS REASON MUSEVENI WOULD 
LIKE PARTIES TO REMAIN "DORMANT," FOR THE TIME BEING. 
WHAT EXACTLY BEING "DORMANT" ENTAILS HAS NOT BEEN SPELLED 
OUT.  UGANDA'S FOUR PRINCIPAL POLITICAL PARTIES HAVE 
ALL ISSUED STATEMENTS SUPPORTING THE MUSEVENI GOVERNMENT, 
WHILE PRIVATELY EXPRESSING A WAIT AND SEE ATTITUDE TOWARDS 
THE NRM'S NON-PARTISAN APPROACH   IT IS CLEAR THAT MUSEVENI 
WOULD LIKE TO DO AWAY WITH THE TRADITIONAL PARTIES, BUT TO 
DATE HE HAS SHOWN NO INCLINATION TO COERCE THE POPULACE 
INTO ACCEPTING THE NRM'S IDEOLOGY. 
 
THE SPECIFIC OBJECT OF MUSEVENI'S REMARKS WAS PROBABLY NOT 
THE LEGAL OPPOSITION, BUT RATHER A SHADOWY GUERILLA 
ORGANIZATION THAT IS BELIEVED, BY THE NRM AT ANY RATE, TO 
HAVE SPRUNG INTO EXISTENCE.  UGANDAN PRESS HAS REPORTED 
THE ARREST OF SOME INDIVIDUALS IN BUSOGA (AREA AROUND JINJA 
TO THE EAST OF KAMPALA) WHO ARE SAID TO BELONG TO AN 
ORGANIZATION CALLED "FORCE OBOTE BACK AGAIN" (FOBA). 
GIVEN OBOTE'S WIDESPREAD UNPOPULARITY, WE FIND IT HARD TO 
BELIEVE ANY CREDIBLE ORGANIZATION WOULD CHOOSE SUCH A 
NAME, BUT MUSEVENI APPARENTLY TAKES THE THREAT SERIOUSLY 
ENOUGH TO HAVE MADE SOME RATHER CRANKY REMARKS TO HIS 
FIELD STAFF ABOUT THE PROBLEM. 
 
 
HOUDEK 

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