Written by OBSERVER TEAM Sunday, 04 October 2009 18:30 Gen. Saleh pleaded with Prince Wasajja Kabaka Ronald Mutebi set tough conditions Museveni gave him head of state reception Interesting details have emerged about behind the scenes maneuvers in the run up to Yoweri Museveni's meeting with Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi on September 30, and about how the President treated his royal guest. As tension mounted over the Kabaka's blocked visit to Kayunga, Museveni sent prominent Baganda and religious leaders to pursue Mutebi for a meeting, but in vain. And with riots ravaging parts of Buganda, the President decided to take the war path, deploying trigger-happy soldiers and announcing legislative measures to isolate the Kabaka. The bloody riots, alongside the closure of Buganda's CBS radio, appeared to have dashed any hope of a meeting between the two leaders, which Museveni had sought for more than two years. But Museveni is a man of many lives. While publicly he was vowing to isolate the Kabaka and crush his rioting subjects, in private he was holding meetings aimed at repairing his relationship with the king. After the riots, the President convened a meeting of his most trusted senior military and political lieutenants at State House Entebbe. The meeting, sources tell us, was attended by Security Minister, John Patrick Amama Mbabazi, Chief of Defence Forces, General Aronda Nyakairima, and the President's younger brother, General Caleb Akandwanaho, commonly known as Salim Saleh. After hours of discussion, consensus emerged that the President needed to abandon his war path and instead pursue dialogue. The four men agreed that only a meeting with the Kabaka would ease the tension between Museveni and his vote basket, Buganda. Saleh's name was agreed on as the best bet to approach the Kabaka. Saleh did not know how to get to the Kabaka since senior Baganda religious and political leaders, who would have helped him, had all tried and failed. The General is reported to have contacted members of the Buganda royal family and pleaded with them for help. Our sources believe that Prince David Wasajja and one of his sisters accepted to take Saleh to Banda Palace on the weekend of September 19/20. Subsequent events suggest that Saleh and the Kabaka discussed all issues that have damaged the relationship between Museveni and the Buganda Kingdom. They include Museveni's refusal to grant Buganda a federal status and failure to return all Buganda's properties, including land. In between, other issues including the closure of Buganda's radio, CBS, and the Land (Amendment) Bill 2007, emerged. Also discussed was the blocking of the Kabaka's tour of Buruuli and Bugerere, where chiefdoms constitutionally under the Kabaka's authority are now, with the help of Museveni's government, seeking autonomy from Buganda, plus the planned extension of Kampala City's boundaries. Saleh reportedly pleaded with the Kabaka to accept to meet Museveni in order to have all these concerns addressed. After meeting the Kabaka, Saleh went back to report to his brother and the meeting that had dispatched him. He informed them that the Kabaka was willing to meet Museveni but with some conditions. It is these conditions that were later packaged into a document. Saleh picked the document from Banda and carried it to his brother in Entebbe, two days before last week's meeting. After Saleh delivered the document, all was set for the meeting. Although all the ground work was secretly done, it was important for the state to leak the information that Museveni had finally persuaded the Kabaka to meet him. The two leaders last met four years ago when the Kabaka went to State House Nakasero to iron out some issues when talks with the government team had stalled. The former Katikkiro, Joseph Mulwanyamuli Ssemwogerere, headed a Buganda team that was negotiating with a government team that included people like Amama Mbabazi and Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda. Preparing for the meeting Sources tell us that Museveni consulted many people who matter in Buganda as to why the Kabaka didn't want to meet him. Nobody gave him a definite answer but several possibilities were put on the table. Some strategists told Museveni that he had not shown respect to the Kabaka in previous meetings. For example, some told him that meeting the Kabaka in short sleeved shirts or folded back long sleeves, was not a sign of respect. Museveni was also coached on how to talk with the Kabaka, including keeping calm and occasionally smiling. He was further told to avoid lecturing the king but to do a lot of listening instead. Museveni intensified his study of how to interact with the Kabaka, more especially after his brother succeeded in pleading for a meeting. When the meeting was finally agreed, the President was ready to receive the king. Instead of his usual checked short-sleeved shirts, Museveni was in a nice suit befitting the occasion. Security details that require Museveni to have guards around him were relaxed. In fact, even his ADC, Col. Wilson Mbadi, was asked to take temporary leave, at least during the time the Kabaka was around. The vehicles carrying the Kabaka and his delegation were allowed up to the staircases where Museveni was waiting, alone. Vehicles are normally parked at a distance.