Voice of America Straight Talk Africa programme host, Shaka Ssali, says President Yoweri Museveni was uncomfortable with his presence on last Saturday’s presidential live TV debate.
Ssali moderated the televised debate alongside Joel Kibazo from African Development Bank and Dr Suzie Muwanga, the head of the Department of Political Science at Makerere University.
Speaking to a local radio, Ssali said he moderated the debate only in the interest of the organisers [the Elders Forum, the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda and the National Consultative Forum with support from the United Nations Development Programme].
“The President and his people were not comfortable with me asking him questions,” he said.
He was however sweet-talked by the chief convener, Justice James Ogoola, to do it for the sake of Ugandans.
“I was told it was not about me or Museveni but Uganda. It is about democracy.”
Ssali said Ogoola told him “you are here because god wanted you to be here to be part of this [debate]”.
“Look at the big picture because if you walk out now, Museveni and his aides will have succeeded. You can be part of the process so Uganda can succeed.”
Ssali says he then decided to be a team player.
“I did it in the interests of the organisers of the debate because of the desire for democracy, I decided to be there.”
He added: “Museveni and his people were not comfortable with me.”
Asked whether he was biased towards Museveni, Ssali said he was indeed biased but “in favour of the truth”.
“I would enjoy to share a cup of tea with Museveni and listen to his interesting stories. What is important is not to massage someone but to go for the truth.”
However, the Inter-religious Council denied the claim by Shaka Ssali that he was ordered not ask President Museveni questions.
“No deal was made..,” The Observer quotes IRC officials as saying.