GALABA – President Yoweri Museveni has opened up on the bush war secrets – revealing that his present-day rival Dr. Kizza Besigye actually saved him during the Liberation Struggle when he fainted on Bulaga hill.
Explaining the importance of the Galamba-Bireembo Trek and recounting what exactly happened before his guerrilla-led forces captured power in 1986, Museveni said Dr. Besigye was his savior during NRA liberation war.
The walk, whose first phase started at Galamba from where the NRA guerilla fighters staged to attack Kabamba, is accordingly to Museveni aimed at celebrating freedom fighters’ heroic sacrifices for patriotism.
“On the 28th of December, 1984, a force from the UNLA in Bukomero attacked us. We repulsed them. I was now happy that our deception was working. Possibly, on the 30th of December, I moved the force to our old site of Kagaari, in Dr. Sebuliba’s farm, where we camped. We had last camped here on the 10th of February, 1981, following our being dislodged from Kagobe, near Kiboga by the Tanzanians. Around 1400 hours on New Year’s Day, 1985, the good news came through our usual informer? the UNLA radio-operators. A military radio message was sent, I think, from Mubende, that, that morning a powerful enemy force had attacked Kabamba barracks, overrun it and were still there,” he narrated.
He added; “I do not clearly, remember. However, on Bulaga hill, I fainted but Dr. [Kizza] Besigye gave me re-hydration salts and I resumed the march. Earlier on, in Karagwe, Tanzania, I had learnt the strain on the body when climbing hills. It is wise to have rests after short bounds; also use a support stick (empiimbo). On the Bulaga hill, I had not observed those rules,” Museveni said.
Although rarely at the battlefront, Museveni says Dr. Besigye was deployed in divisions that were sent into battle where he treated the casualties.
The two, former comrades in arms during the bush war of 1981-86 that put President Museveni in State House, have contested for the presidency since 2001. Dr. Besigye was President Museveni’s personal physician in the bush.
When Mr. Museveni came to power, Dr. Besigye, aged just 29, was appointed state minister of internal affairs and national political commissar.
These appointments shocked some who had been in the bush with Dr. Besigye, as he had not been heavily involved in the political side of the bush war.
Some believe Dr. Besigye’s rapid rise led to him being viewed as a potential threat to the president, and as a result, he was given less demanding work during the 1990s.
Dr. Besigye rose to the rank of colonel in the army but did not retire from it until shortly before the 2001 elections – having written a document that accused the ruling National Resistance Movement of being undemocratic, dishonest and corrupt. It almost earned him a court-martial.
This was after he broke with the president in 1999, saying Museveni was no longer a democrat.
A few months before the election, he emerged as a presidential candidate.