|UGANDA’S 60-YEAR CONFLICT (Part 4a): Mutesa appeals to United Nations|
|Written by Michael Mubangizi|
|Wednesday, 06 January 2010 17:42|
|After Prime Minister Milton Obote abrogated the 1962 Constitution and declared himself president, Edward Mutesa appealed to the UN to intervene. These are extracts from his petition to the UN Secretary-General:
Uganda, a former British Protectorate, became independent on 9th October, 1962. I was elected by the National Assembly…as the first President of Uganda on 8th October 1963.
On 11th March, 1966 when the [background document] was written, the Uganda Constitution had been partially “suspended”.
Constitution in three hours
On 24th February, 1966, the Prime Minister [Dr. Milton Obote] purported to suspend some parts of the Constitution. On 2nd March, 1966, the offices of the President and Vice President were said by the Prime Minister to have been abolished.
The Prime Minister introduced his Constitution to the Assembly and on division 55 Members voted for and four Government supporters voted against the Constitution. The Opposition simply walked out. The Members after that session found their copies of the document in their respective pigeon holes: The other 33 Members either did not vote at all or they were absent. Out of a total membership of the National Assembly of 92, 33 is by no means a negligible number.
It is interesting to note that while the Prime Minister was introducing his new Constitution, troops surrounded the Parliamentary Building and Members of the Opposition were searched before entering the debating chamber. In those circumstances, Dr. Milton Obote was sworn in as President — this time an executive one.
Federo no more
The most important feature of the new Constitution so far as the Kingdom of Buganda is concerned is that the federalist concept is taken away from our Constitution; we now have a unitary form of government.
In regard to the “federalist concept,” I should like to mention what appears to me to be some of the most important events in Buganda’s history, at least during my reign.
Sir Andrew insisted that I should agree to Buganda being a local government unit within a unitary Uganda. I thought this was most unrealistic because since 1900, as a result of the Buganda Agreement of that year, this Kingdom had enjoyed a special position vis-a-vis the rest of the country.
Since that time, it had state powers which it could not be expected to lose.
At the same time, the powers of my Government were increased enormously, e.g. instead of the three Ministers recognised by the 1900 Agreement, the 1955 Agreement created another three Ministers to take care of Health, Education and Natural Resources.
These “arrangements” have been preserved by [the 1962 Constitution].
(b) At the end of 1960, the Lukiiko [Buganda parliament] declared Buganda’s own independence. The cause of this unilateral act was the refusal by the Secretary of State for the Colonies to grant Buganda a federal status i.e. to let Buganda have its own exclusive legislative list and absolute power over its own budget. The subsequent negotiations between Buganda and the Colonial Office resulted in the 1961 Agreement [giving the Kabaka administrative powers over Buganda].
In order to bring the picture into as clear a focus as possible, it is necessary for me to point out:
“The feature which emerges, therefore, is one of a composite state containing a single federal Kingdom (Buganda) in association with the rest of the Country, which would be governed unitarily”.
In trying to persuade the Secretary of State for the Colonies to grant Buganda a federal status, my former Katikkiro (Prime Minister) [concluded] in his speech as leader of the Buganda:
We in Buganda believe that the survival of parliamentary democracy for a long time even after Uganda’s independence will greatly depend on the effective survival of the traditional institutions which most of our people do understand and respect. We are not averse to change, but we want the new superstructure to be based on the rock foundation of our tried and trusted customs and traditions. Naturally, we would prefer evolution to a revolution.
The Constitution which eventually emerged and took concrete shape in the form of the document with which Uganda launched her ship of independence has been and is still workable.
All that I can say here, and I have already stated it, is this that the Uganda Constitution of 1962 as amended, gives the Prime Minister power to move in Parliament…a resolution to remove the President. This procedure was open to Dr. Obote. Why did he not avail himself of that procedure?
The reply to this is also the second answer to the question I posed earlier on. The taking of all the government powers, the suspension and the eventual abrogation of the Constitution, all add up to one single thing: survival.
(a) to inquire into the allegations of the receipt by the Hon. Dr. Apolo Milton Obote, Prime Minister, the Hon. Felix Kenyi Onama, Minister of State for Defence, the Hon. Akbar Akaki Adoko Nekyon, Minister of Planning and Community Development and Colonel Idi Amin, Deputy Commander of the Army, of gold, ivory, moneys or other property from the Congo….
Now before the Commission has had time to report, the same person has elected himself Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of all the armed forces. The Commission’s findings as to the allegation of conspiracy to abrogate the Constitution will now be superfluous. Their other findings are bound to be of doubtful validity after this one-man coup d’ etat.
This is more than a domestic matter. The intervention of the United Nations, in any way, would not be justified in the circumstances of a popular revolution, but we have already seen that this is a one-man coup, which is bound to be resisted by an unarmed people with which he is likely to deal ruthlessly.