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THE 1966 CRISIS; 'REVOLUTION' STOOD ON ITS HEAD (II)

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THE 1966 CRISIS; 'REVOLUTION' STOOD ON ITS HEAD (II)

Post by sol_drethedon on Sat Jul 21, 2012 11:48 pm

Later he repeated this charge: "Those who finance transition and are responsible for its editorial policy, advanced 1million US dollars in December 1964 to subvert the U.P.C and government and failed in February 1966.". by then it had also become clear that those who financed transition, a top quality intellectual magazine published in Kampala, were the CIA through a front organization known as the Council for Cultural Freedom, with headquarters in Paris, a well-known CIA center for Europe and Africa. According to Akena, echoing Obote's voice, 'on his (Ibingira's) return to this land, trouble started at once', and continuing in a verse he writes:'He saw commies in in all things even in his own party. Imaginary commies, imaginary comrades, were expelled from the party, were expelled from different jobs.' Akena further states that, in spite of this witch-hunt by Ibingira within the party now that he had received his financial support, Obote went ahead with his visit to Peking, Moscow, Belgrade and Tokyo.

The break up of the UPC/KY alliance was precipitated by the decision to hold a referendum in Buganda over the lost counties - held on 4th November 1964 and Ibingira's bid to oust Obote inside the party given the strength of the dollar backing. the break-up was important in that a new alliance emerged, cutting across a section of the petty bourgeoisie in the UPC (on the right), the KY and to some extent the DP. Obote was increasingly isolated, as the left was being thrown out by Ibingira forces during 1965. At this point, whilst imperialist rivalries remained, thew section of British monopolies (supporting KY), and a section of US monopolies supporting Ibingira converged in their opposition to Obote. Israel's support at this juncture (1965/6) still remained with Obote Mittelman's observations of this period are correct:

'The secretary-general of UPC, Grace Ibingira, was expanding his power base and increasingly divorcing himself from the policies of the prime minister. members of the UPC who were critical of Obote began gravitating towards Ibingira, adopting a strategy of opposing the prime minister not from without but from within the party A significant group of the KY who in effect controlled the Buganda UPC, threw their lot behind Ibingira, whose faction tried to mobilize further support by capturing power in the party's district organizations. Rumors circulated that Ibingira cohorts, in collusion with KY were contemplating a coup d'etat.'

This was a prelude to the events that began in September and October 1965, in which a number of allegations were madfe regarding 'communist plots' to overthrow the government. Daudi Ochieng, a KY supporter who spoke at a university extra-mural seminar at Mbale at which the late Professor Nabudere was also a speaker, made allegations in parliament in September 1965, following the seminar, that professor Nabudere had stated in his contribution at the seminar that 'in a short period of time the revolutionary forces of Uganda would take over and line capitalists like Ochieng and shoot them.' Allegations were also made about 'two Chinese' being seen in the streets of Mbale where professor Nabudere ran a legal practice. These allegations were followed up with further allegations in October about looting of coffee and golds in which Colonel Amin was involved, in collusion with Obote and two other close cabinet ministers, Nekyon and Onama. a number of events then followed one another in October, in which assassination plots against Ibingira and Opolot, the military commander were alleged. Certain troop movements were also made, apparently without authority.

Obote revealed that in 1965, he was approached by the president on the plot issue:

'It was on the 7th of October, when five incidents (had occurred). On that day i received a letter from Mengo (King Mutesa's palace) informing me that a group of left wingers(communists) were intending to overthrow the government of Uganda and the Kabaka's government on or about the 9th October (independence anniversary) 1965. The letter requested requested me to issue a statement condemning any such plot and that I state my position.'

This pressure from King Mutesa, now acting in concert with Ibingira, was intended to show that Obote was a subversive acting in contradiction with the constitution and the law. It had the effect also, of forcing him to move away from the left, making it easier to oust him.

On the 9th of October 1965, a unit of the army was brought to guard the president,King Mutesa, without the knowledge of the minister of defense or the prime minister. When Obote raised the matter with the president, Obote says that the president 'merely waved me off', preferring to discuss such matters, as commander-in-chief of the army, with the army commander and not 'with a civilian prime minister'! Obote thinks that this was the 'first time' the Uganda army, or part of it, 'was introduced in politics and an attempt- was made to use them for political objectives'! According to him the object was to 'arrange for an alliance between the Party and KY.(and to) change its policy and leadership. the plotters apparently expected the army to do it.'

Having failed in their endeavor, in December 1965, according to Obote, King Mutesa 'placed orders for heavy weapons with a Kampala firm'. This firm, we are told by Obote, was none other than Gailey and Roberts, Kampala of the Unilever monopoly, who were requested by King Mutesa to supply him with 'heavy military weapons and highly sophisticated military vehicles'. These weapons were intended to strengthen King Mutes's private army, which would cooperate with a section of the Uganda Army which supported Brigadier Opolot and Ibingira in ousting Obote. But these weapons were not delivered, due to technicalities.

In February 1966 the crisis built to a new high. The Ochieng September-October allegations were repeated in parliament in the absence of the prime minister who was on tour upcountry. Half of the cabinet under Ibingira's command met and decided to accept the motion from Ochieng against an earlier party position, and the motion was debated and accepted by the whole house, calling for an inquiry into the activities of Colonel Amin, Obote's supporter in the army who in turn opposed Brigadier Opolot as commander of the army. Amin at this time was deputy army commander. In this highly conspiratorial debate in parliament, Ibingira managed to secure the tacit support of almost the entire house, with the exception of the sole vote of the former secretary-general, John Kakonge, against whom Obote had collaborated with Ibingira to oust, and who now came to the support of Obote at this critical time, and according to Akena spoke very well that day.'

The house voted to suspend Colonel Amin forthwith, and directed an inquiry into his bank account, which was alleged to have bulged to a sizable shs.340.000. Amin was the target of the new alliance intended to weaken Obote in the army, in order to oust him through a coup. Obote stuck by Amin. On his return from his tour he accepted the inquiry, and he pointed out that it was technically difficult to suspend a deputy to the army commander. As we have noted, Opolot, the army commander, was on the opposite side supporting the new alliance of Ibingira and King Mutesa. The army was in the midst of the rivalries and was increasingly being drawn into the crisis. Mazrui, although naive in his analysis, nevertheless correctly observes:

'During 1965 it had become clear that politicians were vying with each other for friendship and support of the security forces. The problem was so acute that the commissioner of the police had broadcast an appeal to the country to stop trying to divert the police from its duties and seeking to implicate them in politics. At the same time he appealed to the police to resist the blandishments of the politicians whose friendships with the police were calculated to achieve political ends. By early 1966 it was evident that the future of civilian authority in Uganda might depend on who succeeded in winning the confidence of the security forces."

Large painted boards were put outside military barracks in 1965 warning politicians to keep outside the barracks! Of course such vying for the support of the soldiers only added fuel to the crisis, and gave the soldiers increased confidence as possible future politicians, as events in the near future were to prove.

As Obote predicted, the efforts by his opponents to use the military forces against him in October 1965 failed. In February 1966 an attempt was made again, when the prime minister was on tour of the West Nile. The army commander was sent to bring him back from his tour, while other troops moved into Kampala. The platoon sent for Obote had instructions to bring him back 'dead or alive'. Both actions failed when, returning on his own, Obote ordered the army commander to withdraw the troops from Kampala. Obote does not mention, however, that his return from up-country to Entebbe was made possible by Amin, who place a large army unit at Entebbe airport to protect him on arrival. It became increasingly clear that while Brigadier Opolot, the commander of the army, had the support of the section of the officers, Amin had the support of the low ranks and the 'men' of the army . This fact tilted the balance of political forces in Obote's favor at this crucial period. Although efforts at troop movements were made again within a few days by his opponents, these were countermanded when Obote returned from an East African Authority meeting in Nairobi and ordered for their dispersal.

Obote now began to move against the opponents, knowing fully well that they had failed to oust him. Amin was the force behind him and became the instrument of this countermove. On 22nd February 1966, in as last effort by his enemies, a coup was organized to take place. Obote heard of this and moved first. On that day he called a cabinet meeting, in which he arrested and detained five cabinet ministers including Ibingira, who were allegedly organizing the coup against him. On 24th February, Obote suspended the country's constitution , followed it up by abolishing the post of president and vice-president, and decided to rule by decree through a defense council. King Mutesa's action of calling on the British High Commissioner to ask for precautionary military measures to be taken while Obote was on tour, was cited as evidence of the president's breach of the constitution. Thus, forced into a corner, relying increasingly on a section of the army, Obote began
to act dictatorially.

to be continued.

COMPILED BY DON DRE.
































































































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sol_drethedon

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