The former prime minister, Amama Mbabazi, has praised his successor Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda.
“It is possible that in Parliament I have known him (Rugunda) the longest because we have been friends, workmates and comrades for the last 56 years.
So everything that the Vice-President has said is all true about him.
I can confirm to you and the country that the choice of Ruhakana Rugunda as Prime Minister is the right choice. He has been in positions of leadership and struggle for freedom.
He started when we were students and he was our leader. We were struggling against poor politics of the 1960s. We took principled positions on domestic politics.
We were Pan-Africanists. In 1971, he led us in opposing the dictatorship and when the we launched the armed struggle, National Resistance Movement launched the armed struggle, he was our link with President Yoweri Museveni.
In 1971-73 he directly participated in the struggle. In 1973 Idi Amin delivered a blow to the struggle with public executions. One of the people who were supposed to be executed is him (Rugunda), but what saved him is one of his greatest skills, making friends.
That’s why he is here today. I want to tell you one rare story that has never recurred again. In 1973, we shaved off his beard in order to save his life. So that beard you see is not his original beard. Can you imagine Rugunda without a beard? (Laughter).
In 1973, I and President Museveni went to mobilise Ugandans in several capitals to capture power. Rugunda hosted us in Zambia and mobilised Ugandans there to meet us.
He later took charge of mobilisation in Western Europe and Soviet Union in the struggle and executed his charge very well. When he became our representative to the UN, he became President of the UN Security Council twice, something totally unprecedented. That is evident of the exceptional skills he has.
The veterans of our struggle put their life on the line since 1986 for the freedoms we enjoy today. They desire to be recognised for their commitment, tenacity and hard work.
Rugunda is such a veteran. To succeed in leadership, you need three things – discipline, hard work and commitment. No one can succeed in politics without these. In my 50 years comradeship with Dr. Rugunda, he has all these.
I haven’t yet got opportunity to shake hands with him, but I will do so and make more comments when handing over the docket of Prime Minister as soon as he is ready. I still hold the instruments of office, but will get that opportunity during handover.
I congratulate Ndugu Rugunda and will give him my full support.”
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