President Museveni has disclosed that Britain was “determined” to militarily defend former dictator Idi Amin if Somalia and Tanzania had waged war on Uganda to oust the tyrant.
“In 1971, despite the willingness of some neighbouring countries like Tanzania and Somalia who wanted to invade and get rid of Idi Amin, the British were determined to intervene and defend Amin,” said museveni on Wednesday.
The President said this was “because the political class in Uganda was not united and the same scenario happened in 1980 where after getting rid of Amin, Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), a small group by then, wanted to take hold of the whole situation and marginalized others which resulted into a new war.”
He added: “So, you can see the missed opportunities for a broad-based unity. We missed 1962, 1971 and 1980 and every time we met to get a broad-based position, a lot of trouble for the country resulted.”
Museveni was on Wednesday officiating at the 5th Memorial Day of Chief Justice Benedicto Kagimu Mugumba Kiwanuka at the High Court in Kampala, under the theme: “Benedicto Kiwanuka – Reflections on the Independence of the Judiciary in Modern Times”.
Chief Justice Kiwanuka was murdered during Amin’s administration on September 21, 1972, after he was abducted from his chambers at the High Court in Kampala.
Britain and Israel helped Amin carry out a coup against Milton Obote who was attending a conference in Singapore.
In the first years of Amin’s rule, Britain had adopted a pragmatic stance, in which human rights concerns were not considered, and geopolitical and economic concerns came first.
Britain looked on idly as Amin embarked on a massive slaughter of his perceived rivals and Obote’s supporters.
It was not until 1972 that Amin kicked out Britons and Indians from the country that London appreciated the need to get rid of him.
Museveni at the Bendicto Kiwanuka 5th Memorial lecture at High Court in Kampala on Sept. 21, 2022
Museveni hailed Chief Justice Kiwanuka for standing firm against the tribal chauvinism of Mengo, saying no to pushing tribal agendas and advocating for a national position.
“I worked with him in the Democratic Party (DP) although DP still had its sectarian side being mainly a Catholic party but at least on the national unity, they took a correct position and we should salute him for that,” the President said, adding that Uganda would not have had political problems if UPC under Milton Obote had not been opportunistic to try and please Mengo.
“We are the ones who removed the killers of Ben Kiwanuka. That should be clear, because those who were killing these people, who were they? They were the colonial soldiers, Idi Amin and his group, and who removed them? The freedom fighters (NRM),” Museveni said, adding that it’s the reason Uganda is able to discuss how to move forward.
Other contributions of freedom fighters, according to Museveni, were ushering in democracy that eventually saw the first elections held that never existed for 18 years between 1962 and 1980; dismantling the sectarian system of religion and tribes which had paralysed Uganda and Africa, repairing the economy and ensuring total peace for people to build their lives.
The other one was to financially support the Government structures including the judiciary.
“This is the context I want you to remember,” Museveni noted, adding that the focus now is to critically look and pay more attention to what many are advocating for- the independence of the Judiciary which he said needs some amendment.
“Independence from whom? You cannot be independent of the Ugandan people. So, I would like some amendment to this idea. It is correct that the Judiciary should be independent for sure, but it should be independent within a convergent national system,” Museveni said, adding: “You could not have talked of judicial independence under Idi Amin”.
The President reiterated his commitment to support the Judiciary to bring services closer to the people.
Benedicto Kiwanuka was imprisoned in 1969 by Obote’s government, and later released by Idi Amin who appointed him as the First Ugandan Chief Justice.
Kiwanuka soon came into confrontation with Idi Amin’s disregard for the rule of law. On September 22, 1972 he was murdered by Idi Amin’s forces.
The President of the Uganda Law Society and East Africa Law Society, Mr. Bernard Oundo and the Deputy Chief Justice Richard Buteera also addressed the gathering.
Principal Judge Emeritus, Dr Yorokamu Bamwine and the late Justice Leticia Mukasa Kikonyogo who died at the age of 77 years were recipients of the Chief Justice Benedicto Kiwanuka Awards 2022 for their distinguished service with integrity in the Judiciary.
Dr Yorokamu Bamwine was a recipient of the Chief Justice Benedicto Kiwanuka Awards 2022 for his distinguished service with integrity in the Judiciary
Justice Kikonyogo was the first Ugandan woman Magistrate Grade I from 1971–1973; the first woman Chief Magistrate between 1973 and 1986; the first woman to be appointed High Court Judge in 1986 and who later also sat on the Court of Appeal. She was later appointed the first woman Deputy Chief Justice of Uganda.