Buganda attack on Lubiri
Buganda Marks 54 Years Since the Attack on the Lubiri. PHOTO/WIKIPEDIA

The Buganda attack on Lubiri led to the introduction of guns in Uganda’s politics to solve political disputes.

The Buganda Kingdom marks 54 years of Lubiri attack. The soldiers under the command of Dr Milton Obote and Iddi Amin Dada attacked Buganda palace leading to the 1966 Uganda crisis which saw the first President of Uganda and the Kabaka of Buganda Sir Edward Muteesa II flying out into exile.

The Buganda attack on Lubiri led to the introduction of guns in Uganda’s politics to solve political disputes.

On 24th May 1966 Obote ordered Uganda army under the command of Iddi Amin Dada to attack the Lubiri palace claiming that the Kabaka of Buganda Muteesa II had hidden guns in his palace. This led to a clash between national troops and the Kabaka’s royal guards.

Before the 1962 elections, Uganda had two main political parties which included the Democratic Party (DP) and Uganda people’s Congress (UPC). UPC had been born out of smaller political parties that had come together through a coalition under the leadership of Milton Obote.

Kabaka Yekka (KY) was a political party formed before the 1962 elections to advance for the interests of Buganda in the new emerging elections of 1962.

In 1962 elections an alliance was formed between UPC and KY to defeat DP that had won the 1961 elections. A coalition government was formed between UPC and KY and Obote the leader of UPC became the prime minister in 1962.

In 1963 Obote nominated Muteesa the Kabaka of Buganda to become the president of Uganda a ceremonial position. In 1964 Obote championed the parliamentary bill that was supposed to provide a referendum in the Buganda counties of Buyaga and Bugangazzi, after the referendum, the counties seceded from Buganda to Bunyoro.

This annoyed the Buganda government and they started to look at Obote as a traitor. There was a misunderstanding between the prime minister and the President in 1963 when the Buganda government issued an ultimatum to the Uganda government.

Buganda wanted the central government to withdraw all its police stations from Buganda and also allow the Buganda Lukiiko to determine the number of funds to be sent to the Buganda government.

Later Buganda withdrew its cooperation from the central government which to led to a war of attrition in which the central government starved the Buganda kingdom funds to an extent where the kingdom was unable to pay salaries.

Kabaka Muteesa ii failed to act as a mediator of the central government after the request from the cabinet, he was seen as unhelpful.

President Obote later refused the Uganda army band to play at the Kabaka’s birthday arguing that that was not a national event and this didn’t go well with the supporters of the President Muteesa.

By 1965 things had gone out of control that it required the Vice-president of Uganda William Wilberforce Nadiope to open up the parliamentary session.

An alliance between KY and UPC was faced with a lot of challenges. Obote feared that his support in Buganda region was going down so he told the security organs to react with maximum force to any seemingly a sign of opposition in Buganda.

Buganda attack on Lubiri
Buganda Marks 54 Years Since the Attack on the Lubiri. PHOTO/WIKIPEDIA

In 1964 there was a minor anti-government riot in Nakulabye and the security organs reacted by killing 6 people including two children and three people were shot inside their homes. The government condemned the incident but the officer who was in charge was later promoted to regional commander for the eastern region.

Divisions had developed within UPC and it was clear that Obote’s position as a leader had become fragile and it was hard for him to become the next leader of UPC party in the next 1967 elections since he was accused of tribalism and dictatorial tendencies.

Mr Daudi Ochieng, a KY Member of Parliament introduced a bill calling for a commission of inquiry into allegations that Obote had been involved in smuggling of gold, coffee and ivory from the then Zaire (Congo).

Obote’s response came on February 22 had five cabinet ministers arrested during the cabinet meeting without trial, they included Ibingira, Magezi, Lumu, Kirya and Ngobi. He suspended the constitution and took over all the executive powers.

On March 3, Obote dismissed the President and Vice-president and took over all the functions of the Presidency.

The Buganda kingdom was among the few institutions that were left which could speak up against the undemocratic tendencies of Obote. The Buganda Lukiiko passed a resolution requesting to get off Buganda soil.

Obote saw an opportunity to crash Buganda and on May 24th under the command of Amin, the Uganda army attacked the kabaka’s palace. The troops killed thousands of unarmed civilians and carried out raping, looting.

A state of emergency was declared in Buganda and the palace was set on the blaze. Muteesa escaped to exile where he later passed on on the 21st November.