Senior presidential adviser on media and public relations John Nagenda on Thursday dismissed as an unimportant issue the alleged disappearance of former presidential candidate Kizza Besigye, who came second to President Yoweri Museveni in elections in March.
News and rumours of Besigye’s ‘disappearance’ were the talk of the country but Nagenda told Radio Uganda that the whole saga was “complete and utter nonsense” which only “silly” foreign media were taking seriously, and that Besigye was just trying to draw attention to himself. “It is unimportant and I do not want to waste time on it,” he added.
Besigye reportedly went missing from his residence in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, on Friday 17 August and his whereabouts have remained unknown, although there is speculation that he may have fled the country. Security agencies have impounded a vehicle suspected to have been used by him to leave the country in Kapchorwa, eastern Uganda, leading to speculation that Besigye could have crossed into Kenya, the Ugandan government-owned ‘New Vision’ reported on Friday, 24 August. “We do not know where he is, and how he left the country,” it quoted Ugandan army spokesman Lt-Col Phineas Katirima as saying.
Family sources have said that Besigye had received information that he was to be arrested and charged with being a threat to national security. Besigye’s wife, Mbarara MP Winnie Byanyima, has petitioned the government to produce her husband, saying that it was responsible for his disappearance. “It’s a worrying situation and I’m angry at those people who have ... the government, for having made him run away from his family, and who have made him so insecure since the presidential elections,” Kenyan Television Network (KTN) on Thursday quoted her as saying. Besigye is a “historical member” of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) government, having been one of the original members of Museveni’s guerilla army, but has since accused Museveni of becoming dictatorial and, in July, launched a democratic Reform Charter for Uganda. [for more information, see “IRIN Interview with opposition politician Kizza Besigye”, recorded on 3 July and published on 24 August 2001.]
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