The President of the Ugandan opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Dr. Kiiza Besigye, was scheduled to return to Uganda from the Kenyan capital Nairobi this morning, Wednesday May 11, 2011.
However, before he could board the Kenya Airways Boeing 737 bound for Entebbe, Uganda, he was told by the Kenya Airways Airport Manager at Jomo Kenyatta, Simon Githaiga, that he could not travel.
In an interview by phone with NTV Uganda for NTV's "NTV at One" 1:00p.m. news bulletin, Besigye told NTV that the Airport Manager said he had been instructed by the Chief Executive of Kenya Airways, Titus Naikuni, to prevent Besigye from getting onto the flight.
According to Besigye, Naikuni said he had been told by the Uganda government that if Besigye was allowed to fly, the Kenya Airways plane would not be allowed to land at Entebbe.
Therefore, said Besigye, he was still at the airport in Nairobi waiting for a written statement from the Kenya Airways CEO explaining how the Museveni government had ordered this ban on Besigye.
Naikuni quickly issued a statement that reads in part: ""Kenya Airways would like to confirm to its passengers, customers, investors and the public that Ugandan Opposition Leader Dr. Kizza Besigye is now scheduled to depart on KQ414/11th May departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport for Entebbe International Airport at 1750hrs. Dr Besigye was earlier denied boarding on KQ 410/11th May at 0800hrs following information from Kenya Airways internal intelligence sources that the aircraft would not be allowed to land at the Entebbe International Airport if he was on board."
Meanwhile, the Kenyan parliament this morning discussed the crisis surrounding the refusal to allow Besigye to fly back to Uganda.
With Museveni already coming under strong western diplomatic and international human rights groups condemnation over the brutal police and military crackdown on protesters in Uganda, to this is going to be added anger in Kenya over how their country and national airline can be held hostage by a paranoid and increasingly irrational Museveni.
It should not be forgotten that there is a large cross-sections of Kenyans, mainly in the opposition and among the unemployed urban youth which believes that in Dec. 2007 just after the Kenyan general election, Museveni either helped President Mwai Kibaki rig the election or secretly sent in Ugandan troops in plain clothes to shoot at Kenyan demonstrators.
This still-festering bitterness at Museveni is going to come to the surface as Kenya's newspapers and radio and television stations debate the crisis of Kenya Airways and Besigye's flight tomorrow.
Today, May 11, 2011, is exactly a month since Ugandan opposition parties and activists started a protest that they billed the "Walk-to-Work" campaign against the high inflation (14.1 percent in April) and rising fuel prices, but which in reality was a political action move against the Museveni regime that the opposition still maintains rigged the Feb. 11, 2011 Ugandan general election.
While many opposition leaders and agents have variously been arrested, stopped from walking and harassed by Ugandan security, most of the focus of police and intelligence action has been on Besigye.
The paranoid and almost totally irrational way that the Uganda government is handling and responding to the opposition leader Col. Kiiza Besigye is puzzling many Ugandans and watchers of Uganda abroad.
Even taking into account President Yoweri Museveni's natural paranoia and the way Besigye unsettles him, he should be reacting this way.
Is Winnie Byanyima the problem?
Many argue that Museveni's and Besigye's rivalry over Museveni's former girlfriend and Besigye's current wife Winnie Byanyima.
There is a tendency (argued privately of course) among Ugandan analysts and observers to argue that ever since Museveni's former personal doctor, Kiiza Besigye, married Byanyima in 1998, Museveni is still smarting from that loss and this is the unstated force behind the current political crisis in Uganda.
In the early years, that might have been a factor, but not that much any more.
Museveni has never been a romantic type as far as women are concerned. The women that he has the nearest to tender feelings for are Amelia Kyambadde and perhaps Byanyima.
Museveni, who grew up in Ankole in western Uganda, has the machismo attitude of many men from that area toward women, seeing them as little more than things, objects.
He can vie for a woman but when it becomes obvious that he has lost out, he can let go. It is not like Museveni to spend years still lamenting and mourning the loss of a woman in his life.
There must be some other explanation for why Museveni can go to such lengths and risk his remaining local support and international image to clampdown on Besigye, beyond the matter of Byanyima.
Paranoia over Rwanda
During the election campaigns, the Uganda Record published a report quoting a Rwandan newspaper, Umuvugizi, that the Kagame government had planned to assassinate Museveni during one of his campaign rallies.
The Uganda Record also referred to a news story in the Red Pepper tabloid in July 2010 that reported on a strange incident involving an attack on the convoy of the Ugandan First Lady Janet Museveni.
A source told the Uganda Record that he had received information from intelligence officials within Museveni's presidential guard that the Red Pepper story about an assassination attempt on Mrs Museveni was true and that Ugandan intelligence suspected this had been planned by Rwanda.
Subject to further information, we believe that the real reason for this irrational response to Besigye is that the Museveni regime fears or believes that their arch-rival Rwandan President Paul Kagame is watching events in Uganda very closely.
In fact, so closely is he watching them that if this three-month state of post-election uncertainty continues this way, Ugandan intelligence believes that Kagame could make the long-awaited and long-dreaded move to stir the waters further and destabilise Museveni out of power.
Western anti-Museveni campaign
It is also becoming the view of the Museveni regime that in recent months, the western world has decided to turn against him, as was evidenced by the several visits by western ambassadors to Nakasongola Prison to see Besigye and another opposition leader, Norbert Mao, President of the Democratic Party.
Key western embassies, the United States and Britain, condemned the police crackdown against opposition supporters, asserting their right to walk in protest.
The western media had given Uganda almost continuous coverage since April 11, most of it slanted in favour of the opposition.
Some speculate that behind some of this anti-Museveni campaign in the West is a powerful lobby determined to bring down a man viewed in the West as presiding over a government that is openly hostile to homosexuals.
Other opinions believe that the Americans, who have since realised that the July 11, 2010 bomb blasts in Kampala that were at first blamed on the Somali militants Al-Shabab, might have been planted by the Museveni regime and are quietly exacting revenge while keeping up the public face of being supporters of Museveni.
Dictator Museveni we refuse to recognize you as Uganda President. DMMGR