Kampala | RedPepper Digital– Former Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda says he has never harboured plans of standing for the presidency despite overwhelming calls to do so in 2026.
Rugunda was replying to social media calls that he should run for president in 2026.
“I have read social media postings and suggestions that I should run for President in 2026. I would like to make it known that I have no such intentions or plans,” Rugunda, currently serving as a special envoy for special duties in the office of the president clarified on Tuesday through his social media handle-Twitter.
President Museveni who has led Uganda for 35 years has not talked about retiring, at least publically, and therefore it remains to be seen whether he will seek re-election in 2026 as succession debate seems to be gaining momentum.
It is a public secret that those who have attempted to eye Museveni’s seat especially within the movement have since fallen down the pecking order. They have ended up being treated like an Ebola patient (read being isolated and crushed). And Rugunda, analysts say, is not that kind of ‘a miscalculating politician’ who would want to behave like he has nothing to lose by challenging his longtime comrade and master.
To bring this into context, pundits say, Ugandans should reflect on 2014-2016 events when former Prime Minister and NRM Secretary General, Amama Mbabazi, attempted to challenge Museveni.
He was very powerful by all means. But guess what happened—Mbabazi was totally obliterated. He lost his SG and PM posts and the last straw to break the camel’s back was when a young girl from Koboko, Evelyne Anite, moved a resolution in Kyankwanzi which declared Museveni the NRM sole presidential candidate.
Mbabazi went on to stand as an independent on the Go Forward ticket but only managed to get 136,519 votes. He was isolated and crushed from all points. All of his friends he hoped to rely on deserted him—Rugunda must have learnt a lesson.
Early this year before Rugunda was replaced with Robinah Nabbanja, he also came out to dismiss social media reports that he had requested to be retired. Rugunda then said he had no immediate plans of stopping work adding that he was a revolutionary with a vision to achieve.
“Because revolutionaries have a responsibility to advance their revolution, to serve the population and my role is to make a contribution in service of the people of Uganda, in service of Africa and I am making that,” Rugunda then said.
When he was relieved of his Prime Minister duties, Rugunda said he was committed to serving the appointing authority and NRM:“I thank HE, Kaguta Museveni, for the opportunity he gave me to serve Uganda as Prime Minister & for the new assignment as a Special Envoy. I remain committed to supporting HE the President and the NRM in the transformation of our country. Thank you all for the support.”
It’s unclear which particular Ugandans have been asking former Premier to contest for Presidency, but some replied to his tweet demanding he shows evidence of the Ugandans yearning for his Presidency.
WHAT MAKES RUGUNDA TICK
Pundits Pepper Digital talked to, concur that Rugunda has all the presidential qualities. Pundits observe that in the grand scheme of NRA/NRM politics, Rugunda is classified as a shareholder. He could be having minority shares. He is not a creeper.
From the day Museveni and his group declared war on Milton Obote (second) government, Rugunda expressed his support despite his Uganda People Congress (UPC) roots.
He, however, made it clear that he was to be part of the external wing but not the fighting group. He first put base in Kenya and later Sweden. In her book “My Life’s Journey” Janet Museveni talks about Rugunda as one of those who helped her in exile as mosquitoes feasted on her hubby in the Luwero jungles.
The first incident was in Kenya when Obote collaborators started tracing the Museveni family and other NRA sympathizers. One day these agents kidnapped Janet’s house helper John. It was Rugunda and Mathew Rukikaire who traced and rescued the young boy from prison. When the Museveni family relocated to Moheda –Sweden, it was the only family from Uganda. But a few months later they were joined by Rugunda and his family and Amama Mbabazi.
After leaving the Moheda settlement, the Museveni family relocated to Gothenburg city in Sweden while Rugunda and Mbabazi relocated to Uppsala city also in Sweden but miles apart. However, on many occasions, Rugunda would board a train to come and help Janet with some of the work in the house.
This is because Janet had experienced a culture shock in Sweden where it was ‘do it for yourself’—household members are expected to fix simple things like furniture, electricity wirings without involving a technician which was a challenge to Janet.
“…When we first moved in [Gothenburg], I asked our good friend Dr. Rugunda to come and help us with some of the work in the house. He kindly obliged and came all the way to Gothenburg to see what he could do…,” Janet states on page 127.
This implies that while Museveni was in the bush, Rugunda made sure his family remained safe and somehow also took over the responsibility as the commander.
When Museveni visited his family in Sweden in 1985, he alongside Rugunda and others including Janet travelled to Austria where they met with the leaders of the Ugandan National Resistance Movement (NRA/M) at the inn (Zum grunen Jager” in Unterolberdort, for a conspirative conference to elaborate a political program for liberated Uganda.
Rugunda was also part of the failed Nairobi Peace Talks of December 17, 1985, between the Junta government of Lt Gen Tito Okello Lutwa and the National Resistance Army/Movement (NRA/M) rebels led by Yoweri Museveni. He was on the side of the NRA.
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Since 1986, Rugunda has held a long series of Cabinet posts: he was Minister of Health from 1986 to 1988, Minister of Works, Transport and Communication from 1988 to 1994, Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1994 to 1996, Minister of Information from 1996 to 1998, Minister at the Presidency from 1998 to 2001, Minister of Water, Lands and Environment from 2001 to 2003, and Minister of Internal Affairs from 2003 to 2009.
He also served as Chairman of the NRM Electoral Commission, as Member of Parliament for Kabale Municipality, and as President of the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
In July 2006, Rugunda led a Ugandan government negotiating team to Juba to hold peace talks with the Lord’s Resistance Army.
In January 2009, he was appointed as Uganda’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. At the same time, the position was elevated to the Cabinet Ministerial level in Uganda.
He twice served as the President of the Security Council in July 2009 and in October 2010 during Uganda’s two-year stint on the Security Council.
In the cabinet reshuffle of 27 May 2011, he was instead appointed as Minister of Information and Communication Technology.
In May 2013, he was moved to the post of Minister of Health, replacing Christine Ondoa, who became an advisor to the President of Uganda on public health matters. Rugunda was appointed as Prime Minister in September 2014 until June 2021.