VP Ssekandi safe as Museveni searches for Rugunda successor
KAMPALA, JUNE 3, 2016 – A premier who feels he has run his race, a rank of old buddies that lost seats in the February parliamentary elections and a restive youth demanding more involvement in the running of their country, are some of the divergent interests stopping President Museveni from naming a new cabinet.
Museveni extended the term of the old cabinet on May 10, putting him on opposite sides with Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga who expected him to announce new appointees before he delivered the State of the Nation address on May 31.
256BN has now learned that Museveni who is on a private trip to Germany has held off naming a new cabinet until he either succeeds in convincing incumbent PM Livingstone Ruhakana Rugunda popularly known as Ndugu (Brother) to continue holding the fort, or find a suitable replacement. It is understood that Ndugu communicated his desire to vacate the office he only assumed in October 2014, leaving MUseveni with the task of finding an industrious and loyal replacement who also commands respect.
On the other hand, Museveni who has can constitutionally select only 10 nominees to cabinet outside elected representatives, faces the daunting task of accommodating longtime colleagues, some of them comrades in the armed struggle that brought him to power 30 years, against the agitation of party youth who feel their time has arrived.
“It is no easy task and that is why the President has chosen to buy time by retaining the old team as he works out how to trade his horses,” a person familiar with what is going on told this publication.
In recent weeks, Museveni has made some surprise moves naming junior finance minister David Bahati and Disaster Minister Hilary Onek to the parliament’s appointments committee. While it is understood that the move was generally part of efforts to free cabinet slots, in the case of Hillary Onek, it was to block him from becoming a competitor to VP Edward Ssekandi for the Vice-Presidency.
It is reported that Hillary Onek had become unrelenting in his bid for the Vice-Presidency, reasoning that he was both academically and politically suited for the post. As a catholic, he would still represent the interests of the powerful catholic church in Ugandan politics while as a northerner, he would give northern Ugandan a sense of belonging in the ruling National Resistance Movement.
Since he cannot vet himself, by shunting him to the appointments committee, Museveni has effectively eliminated Onek from the race for cabinet.
But because this would upset Buganda, a region that Museveni still owes a lot in unfulfilled pledges, the President has decided to retain Ssekandi as his VP.