Security Minister Henry Tumukunde on Friday heaped praises to his former bush war comrade – turned government opponent, Col Dr Kizza Besigye, branding him as one of the most powerful Ugandans he had ever met.
The minister seemed emotional recalling how Dr Besigye helped him personally; noting that he perhaps would have lost one of his limbs if it weren’t for the doctor.
Tumukunde shocked mourners at a funeral as he showered praises to a man that has for nearly two decades been a thorn in the foot of his boss, President Yoweri Museveni.
Going down memory lane, the minister termed Besigye as a man who had a lot of power while he still served in government, but never abused it.
He said the only person other than the President that ever wielded nearly as much power, was former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi.
“Even when he was still in government, if he summoned you, you would see a young man with power under 30years,” said Tumukunde.
“Besigye is out of government (NRM) and he still remains a very powerful man.”
The minister was speaking at the burial of Timothy Mark Kainamura Rukikaire, son of former junior Finance Minister Matthew Rukikeire who was laid to rest in Rukungiri district.
Col Besigye was in attendance at the send-off.
Even though Dr Besigye has been described as one of the major hindrances of progress in Uganda by President Museveni, Tumukunde said of the opposition strongman as a person who “never divides people.”
“I got information recently that a group went to consult him about certain things and I was told that he informed them if it’s for development, embrace it.”
Addressing the opposition figure directly, the minister termed Besigye as a person that loves development and proposed that he sits down and buries his hatchet with President Museveni
“I have known you as a person who never sabotages development. I think that is why we are friends. I hope you can also be friends with your other powerful man,” he said.
At the funeral, Matthew Rukikeire a retired politician, who like Besigye and Tukunde helped in the formation of the ruling NRM party, also talked of ending the friction between the ruling party under the president and Besigye’s opposition.
He told the mourners that he recently had a meeting with Yoweri Museveni at State House and no one else was allowed in the hour-long meeting.
The deceased, 46 year old Timothy had suffered a brain disease his entire life.
According to family members, he never spoke, walked or understood life around him.
He succumbed to pneumonia at Gwatiro Hospital in Bweyogerere.