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Recent Events in Haiti, Mali Spur Questions on Safety of Presidents

Ever since President Museveni took over power in 1986, there have been very few reported cases of an attempt on his life. Save for two incidents documented by third parties, there is no known attempt on Museveni’s life. The first incident is reported in Journalist Daniel Kalinaki’s book; ‘Besigye and Uganda’s Unfinished Revolution.’
26 Jul 2021 12:40
The President of Mali Assimi Goita survived an assassination on Tuesday shortly after attending Eid Adhuha prayers in the capital Bamako. This attempt came just two weeks after the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse of Haiti by a group of mercenaries reportedly hired from Colombia, according to Haitian police. 

Moise is the second president to die under mysterious circumstances this year. The other was the longtime ruler of Chad Idris Deby. Other than Muammar Gaddafi who was killed during the 2011 Arab uprising in Libya, the last president in Africa to be assassinated was Laurent Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2001.

In Uganda, an attempt on the life of a President first happened in 1966 after the attack on the Palace of the then President who also doubled as the Kabaka of Buganda Sir Edward Muteesa II. The then Prime Minister Dr. Apollo Milton Obote orchestrated the attack on Muteesa.

The commander of the forces that attempted to kill Muteesa was Idi Amin Dada who later also became a president. In 1969, Obote who had now become the President after abolishing Kingdoms also survived an attempt on his life at Lugogo Indoor Stadium where he had gone to attend a meeting of his party; Uganda People’s Congress.

Amin also survived an attempt on his life in 1976 when three grenades were thrown at a parade of Police recruits, which he was inspecting. This was one of the many attempts on Amin’s life. Ever since President Museveni took over power in 1986, there have been very few reported cases of attempts on his life.

Save for two incidents documented by third parties, there is no known attempt on Museveni’s life. The first incident is reported in Journalist Daniel Kalinaki’s book; ‘Besigye and Uganda’s Unfinished Revolution.’ In the book, Besigye tells a story of an attempt by the then leader of Zaire now DR Congo Mobutu Sese Seko to kill Museveni. 

Besigye, who was part of Museveni’s entourage on a visit to DRC where Mobutu had invited him, said when they arrived, their host did not seem like he had anything he wanted to tell Museveni other than trapping him. After their meeting, which discussed really nothing, Mobutu gave Museveni a present. 

However, being security conscious, Museveni declined to have it on the same helicopter and instead asked his advance team to come with it days later. It turned out that what was wrapped in the box was actually a bomb that was meant to explode while the helicopter was airborne.

The other story of the assassination was reported by WikiLeaks of Julian Assange, which said that Museveni feared that the then President of Libya Muammar Gadhafi wanted him dead. In the leaked cables, Museveni told the then United States Deputy Secretary for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer that he feared Gadhafi would shoot down his Gulf Streamer airliner as he flew over international waters because of his [Museveni] opposition to the creation of one country in Africa known as The United States of Africa.

In the cables, Museveni wanted the US to provide aerial surveillance to his aircraft while it flew over international waters. When contacted for a comment, on what they have been doing right to avert threats on the President’s life, Major Jimmy Omara, the spokesperson of the Special Forces Command, the elite force in charge of the President’s security laughed off the question wondering about the motive of the story.

“Mali or Haiti are not Uganda; the circumstances in these countries are different. But really I don’t know what to tell you because discussing it would appear like we want something like that to happen here,” Omara said.

According to the constitution of Uganda, article 109, if the President dies, resigns, or is removed from office; the Vice President assumes the office of President until fresh elections are held within six months unless the term of the president is left with less than one year to its completion.

On the other hand, the same article under clause 5 adds that where both the President and the vice-President are both unable to perform the functions of the office of the President, then the Speaker of Parliament would become the president until the President or vice-President are able to resume his or her work. If both the Vice President and the Speaker are both not in, a position to replace the President, then the order of precedent can be followed to choose who should be the next president.

According to Article 98, the President, Vice President, Speaker and Chief Justice take precedent over all persons. The fifth in Command is the Deputy Speaker followed by the Deputy Chief Justice.