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 Ofwono Opondo

OPINION: Unmasking NUP Dark Operations and Media Conspiracy of Silence

Like their uneasy ally Besigye, NUP from the beginning chose extreme belligerence and anarchy in their attempt to remove NRM and President Yoweri Museveni.  With the naivety and shallowness of its leadership, NUP chose radicalism of youths to falsely believe that only civil insurrection or armed rebellion can remove President Museveni.
posted onFebruary 20, 2023
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By Ofwono Opondo

The leaders of the misguided National Unity Platform (NUP) party so far appear to have learned nothing useful from Kizza Besigye’s failed Reform Agenda of 2001 that morphed into Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) in trying to bolster its platform through spreading disinformation and subterfuge. Since its formation towards the 2021 elections, NUP has proven itself as a group of nefarious actors operating from the shadows probably knowing the local media is either incompetent, unprofessional and isn’t up to the task to expose their dirty industry.

The collective media's failure or unwillingness to unmask NUP’s glaring deception, misinformation, disinformation, and subterfuge whose objective is to spread political scare is so telling that many will be right to conclude that the media could be playing the fifth column in the conspiracy. And built with western foreign backing, NUP also knows that state intelligence agencies may go slow in shading light on them as vendors of disinformation for blackmail and political gain fearing being accused of intrusion into privacy, and violation of fundamental freedoms.

NUP’s disinformation enterprise is increasingly becoming a threat to Uganda’s social harmony and nascent democracy, but, we should dare you political fools who think can use anarchy as a means to cause a political change in Uganda today. After all, in real life, there’s a limitation of the law. Like their uneasy ally Besigye, NUP from the beginning chose extreme belligerence and anarchy in their attempt to remove NRM and President Yoweri Museveni.  With the naivety and shallowness of its leadership, NUP chose radicalism of youths to falsely believe that only civil insurrection or armed rebellion can remove President Museveni.

Even when the 2021 elections were supposed to be held under guided COVID-19 SOPs, NUP presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi and FDC’s Patrick Oboi Amuriat commanded their supporters to ignore every measure to prevent COVID-19 spread. As a result, Kyagulanyi and Amuriat were constantly locking horns with the police, which served them well because they could now cry as victims of state repression. But even with that ‘victimhood’, Kyagulanyi on sectarian considerations could only win in Buganda, and parts of Busoga, as Amuriat trailed in distant places. Meanwhile, Museveni picked massively the rest of Uganda.

Soon after the elections, we witnessed elements of civil insurrection in the Masaka region where NUP radicalized supporters hacked hapless citizens with machetes hoping to generate fear so that people flee villages and these gangs occupied to create a ‘Benghazi’, a possible start of a Libyan-styled ‘revolution’ in Uganda. Indeed, two NUP MPs are before the court in Masaka for the alleged murders in Masaka while other suspects who NUP claims to be its members are on trial for various heinous crimes involving murders, terrorism, and treason.

As criminal cells got neutralized, NUP began to claim that their members were being ‘kidnapped’, ‘abducted’, and ‘tortured’ to deliberately create a narrative of illegalities, brutality, persecution, and lack of accountability by the state. In 2022 Uganda saw an emergence of a terror group attacking isolated police units in Buganda and Busoga killing police officers and stealing guns with intelligence reports pointing to attempts to start a rebellion.

On November 28, 2022, security operatives killed two assailants Tarsis Mulengera, and Dennis Ssekimpi 50, in Nakaseke who had ambushed a UPDF night patrol. Ssekimpi, according to NUP, was its mobilizer in Wakiso district. With security agencies busting these emerging terror cells and President Museveni telling Ugandans that operations will continue, every time a criminal suspect is arrested, NUP claims ‘abduction’ or ‘kidnap’ of “our members.”.

The same gangs have been vandalizing electricity infrastructure vandalism across the country targeting high-voltage power lines as a way to sabotage economic growth. These too have been neutralized and now face charges of economic sabotage before courts of law.

Like FDC previously, NUP has now circulated multiple fictitious lists of the ‘kidnapped’, ‘abducted’ ‘disappeared’, or ‘tortured’. One Richard Ssebuganda whose hand got blown off as he tossed a tear gas canister back at the police during a riot was recently presented as a torture victim.  NUP has refused to provide full details of the so-called victims to facilitate traceability because it keeps NUP afloat. Yet journalists fail to challenge the veracity of this malign behavior.

It helps to remember that in 2001, after the electoral defeat, Besigye, in spite of his bombastic rhetoric, fled Uganda into hiding sojourning in different countries before settling in South Africa from where he returned in 2005. In between, his group mobilized mostly disgraced army personnel from western Uganda among them Col. Samson Made, Edison Muzoora, and Anthony Kyakabale into the Peoples Redemption Army (PRA) for an armed rebellion.

But when crushed in the DRC, Muzoora’s body was found dumped in Bushenyi. Col.  Anthony Kyakabale returned under mutual considerations. Samson Mande is at peace in Sweden. Many rebels lucky to be captured alive, got amnesty. But notable among those Besigye lured into rebellion but never to be seen again is James Opoka, his then political assistant sent as an advance party to link up with Joseph Kony’s LRA in Acholi region.  

The writer is the executive director of the Uganda Media center

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