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My NRM Journey

The story of NRM is one of metamorphosis. What I suspect most people born after the struggle do not know, is that the National Resistance Movement did not spring up of its own accord. Rather, it was an outgrowth of several movements that preceded it.

The first was FRONASA, a liberation and anti-dictatorship movement established by former Ntare students in the early 1970s.

I, myself, joined the liberation struggle in 1972 as I enrolled at Makerere University to study a Bachelor of Laws. I had seen, first hand, the heartbreaking effects of bad governance whilst at Ntare School when several of my fellow students were orphaned by Amin’s killings of Acholi and Langi Ugandans.

From 1974 to 1979, I was in charge of the internal operations of FRONASA. At this time, I took up the alias of Ahmed Mbayo in order to conceal whatever it was I was doing. In March 1979 at the Moshi conference, FRONASA together with Kikosi Maalum, Save Uganda Movement and several other groups and individuals, formed the Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF) and the Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA). With the support of the Tanzanian government and Tanzania People’s Defence Forces, we defeated Idi Amin in April 1979. The UNLF/UNLA led the government of Uganda until the elections of December 1980.  I was a member of the UNLA from 1979-1981 and the Director of Legal Services in the Ministry of Defence. I was also a member of the Defence Council.

When the general elections were organised in 1980 we decided to form a political party called the Uganda Patriotic Movement (UPM), which represented a broad front of what we called the third force. The third force represented a fundamental departure from the conventional politics of Uganda, which were sectarian in character. We in UPM had given notice that if the elections were rigged, we would go to the bush and fight whichever government had been imposed on Ugandans. 

When UPC, under Milton Obote, was declared the victor of the election in 1980, this result was disputed. Many of us in UPM thus began planning a second liberation mission. On February 5th, 1981 I, together with Akanga Byaruhanga and Sam Magara, drove to Kabamba Barracks in order to deliver a message to our contacts in the UNLA. The attack on Kabamba had been shifted from 5th to 6th. Indeed the next day the first sound of the liberation gunfire was heard when our force attacked Kabamba under the name of PRA (Popular Resistance Army).

In June 1981, PRA united with Uganda Freedom Fighters (UFF) and the National Resistance Movement and Army were born. I was as dedicated to the NRA as I had been to FRONASA and UNLA. Prior to going into exile in Kenya, I had spent much of my time doing reconnaissance work or mobilising former FRONASA combatants in UNLA to join PRA and go to the bush.  In exile (first Nairobi and then Sweden), I worked in the external wing of the NRA coordinating our activities outside of Uganda.

In July 1985 under pressure from NRA/NRM, UNLA overthrew Obote. Once we took power in 1986, the focus of the NRA turned more inward. Our primary task was to build Uganda but also to build the NRM, the vehicle of our beliefs. We believed in liberty, equality and unity amongst all Ugandans. We believed in clean leadership, true democracy and in ensuring the kind of foundational development that would enable Uganda to be a nation we could all be proud of. 

I have held various positions in service of NRM. In 2003 we undertook the writing of our party constitution. This task was left to the NRM Constitutional Committee of which I was the chairman. In 2005, I was elected as the party’s first ever Secretary General.