Sebei voters have decided to withdraw their votes accusing President Museveni of making “reckless statements” during his recent campaign trail in the three districts that make up Sebei region.
The people of Sebei region, as we learnt, are not happy with the remarks made by the president while campaigning in Bukwo district and at Booma grounds in Kapchorwa district.
“The president, during his visit here, said the people who live in mountains gave opposition an opportunity to criticise him. He also said their failure to vote him was given his rivals an upper hand,” an NRM official told us.
The president, for example, asked the people of Bukwo district why they are staying in mountains instead of relocating to low lands.
“You people of Bukwo, why are you staying in mountains instead of buying land in low lands and staying there,” Museveni reportedly asked residents.
The residents, according to the official, concluded that the president was under looking them.
“How could the president say that we are staying in mountains, does he know how long we and our ancestors stayed in these mountains,” residents reportedly broke into a protest.
The situation worsened after the FDC flag bearer, Rtd Col Dr Kiiza Besigye, visited the district.
Police fired teargas and injured a number of residents of Toriet Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Amanang Sub-county in Bukwo district.
The residents had on January 7 invited Besigye to see their deplorable living conditions in the camp.
Both members of the ruling party National Resistance Movement (NRM) leaders and the opposition in the area protested police conduct led by the Sipi Regional Police Commander, Gerald Twishime.
They later petitioned the President Yoweri Museveni over the matter.
In their petition, the leaders observed that the action by the police to teargas residents and block Besigye from visiting the camp had demobilised NRM support in the area.
Twishime was later sacked on orders of police chief, Kale Kayihura.
In Kapchorwa district, the president is accused of trying to intimidate residents and showing off on how he has huge herds of cattle which he was going to look after even if they failed to vote him.
In about a 30-minute address at Booma grounds, the president said that he has many cows which he can sell and can give him milk to sell for a living.
He allegedly told the people of Sebei region that they would get nothing if they made a mistake and voted opposition.
“You people of Sebei, if you don’t vote me, who will you vote? I am an old man. I can go and drink milk from my cows but you will get nothing after voting these opposition,” the president is quoted to had said.
The remarks did not go down well with the people.
When Besigye travelled to Kapchorwa town on his campaign tour, residents showered him with goats and chicken painted in FDC colours.
Women and youth even swept roads for Besigye to walk through.
The people also vowed not to vote the president unless he gets land to resettle those without land.
They also demanded the construction of Sawumu-Bukwo road and saving their land that was illegally sold to an investor near Mt Moroto plains.
Museveni dispatches Kayihura
An NRM insider says the president’s strategists briefed him about people’s discontentment and he did not take matter lightly.
The president, in a counter attack, instructed Kayihura to rush to Sebei region and calm his people.
Gen Kale Kayihura hurried to the region early this month.
His chopper landed at Booma grounds where he briefly met with Kapchorwa district officials and asked them to calm down the people.
He promised that the president would return to the region to explain.
Kayihura further rushed to Bukwo district and met with Bukwo camp police victims.
He reprotedly paid Shs20m in compensation after meeting the district officials before sacking the Sipi regional police commander, Twishime who ordered the shooting of residents.
Kayihura personally reportedly apologised for the conduct of police and handed over Shs 10m to the 10 people who were injured during the fracas.
The money would cover their medical bills while the other Shs10m went to Tieret camp leaders to purchase relief food.
Gen Kayihura also organised a sports Gala in the region where the president was expected to be the chief guest.
However, the president failed to show up on the last hour and was represented by the Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda.
Rugunda, while addressing the people of Sebei at Sebei College said the NRM government is committed to solving all the problems and challenges facing the people including Suwamu-Bukwo construction, resettling the landless to new government areas, allowing people to access gazetted areas without destroying the environment.
Rugunda also assured them that the president will revisit the area to ensure that the pending issues are properly sorted in the interest of Sebei region.