The assassination attempt occurred on the final day of Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) party annual delegates’ conference at Lugogo Indoor stadium in Kampala.
Uganda @60: Obote survives assassination, Benedicto Kiwanuka charged with attempted murder
On December 19, 1969, President Milton Apollo Obote survived an assassin’s bullet and Benedicto Kiwanuka, Uganda’s first Chief Minister and leader of the Democratic Party (DP), was accused of being behind the plot to kill Obote.
The annual delegates’ conference lasted three days with presidents Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, and Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, now DR Congo, having showed up for its first day.
Who pulled the trigger?
When Obote was shot at, the then army commander Maj Gen Idi Amin was suspected to be the would-be assassin. This was so because Amin and Obote had fallen out since late 1968. But when the Flying Squad followed the trail to the killer, police investigators found themselves at the door of Benedicto Kiwanuka.
Kiwanuka was a World War I veteran, having attained the rank of sergeant. The director of Criminal Investigations Department (CID), Mr Mohamed Hassan, was behind the search for the would-be killer.
Mohamed Sebaduka, a Kampala-based taxi driver, was the prime suspect, initially, and he was arrested in Natete, a Kampala City suburb.
After being interrogated, Sebaduka, however, he said Kiwanuka was the brain behind the attempted assassination.
Based on Sebaduka’s revelations, the CID boss testified before the High Court in Kampala, saying Kiwanuka had imported the firearms from the Soviet Union in order to assassinate Obote.
The plot was reportedly started in June 1969. He said in Masaka, Benedicto recruited Yusuf Kisule, 67, in 1969. Kisule in turn recruited Yowana Wamala and Mohamed Sebaduka, the would-be assassin.
Sebaduka was a taxi driver by trade and radical Muslim by temperament who was also an ex-service man who had been dismissed from the Uganda Army after the 1966 Lubiri Crisis.
The Lubiri Crisis is also known as the Buganda Crisis, and also called the 1966 Mengo Crisis, the Kabaka Crisis, or the 1966 Crisis, domestically, was a period of political turmoil that occurred in Buganda. It was driven by conflict between Prime Minister Obote and the Kabaka of Buganda Edward Mutesa culminating in a military assault upon the latter's residence in Lubiri that drove him into exile.
The CID boss also told court that, during interrogation, six men, including Sebaduka, confessed that Kiwanuka met Sebaduka, Wamala and Princess Ndagire, Kabaka Muteesa’s daughter, at her home in Kampala on the morning of December 19, 1969, for the last briefing before the attempted assassination.
Sebaduka pulls the trigger
From behind a cypress tree, about 10 metres from Obote, Sebaduka aimed and fired his pistol. After the first bullet, Sebaduka said, the pistol jammed.
But the first bullet blasted through Obote’s mouth, smashing two teeth before going through his cheek, and grazing Obote’s principal private secretary’s neck.
Seeing that Sebaduka’s pistol had jammed, Wamala threw a grenade at Obote. But it didn’t explode, by then Obote’s bodyguards had flung him down to protect him from more bullets.
Obote lives to die another day
Infuriated and paranoid after the attempted assassination, he banned all opposition parties and adopted an authoritarian regime. His government was overthrown in 1971 and was succeeded by Idi Amin. Obote died of kidney failure in 2005.
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