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Kadaga’s mysterious `letter bomb’

By Joan Akello

Why is police and parliament keeping it hushed up?

Since The Observer newspaper broke a story about an attendant in the office of the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga sustained injuries as he was opening a letter that `exploded’ in his face, there have been calls for her security to be increased.

The incident which is being referred to as a “letter bomb” caused facial injuries to Herman Kaboggoza and he was admitted to Mulago National Referral Hospital before being discharged. Speaker Kadaga was out of the country at the time of the alleged incident.  The Assistant Director of Media Relations at Parliament, Ranny Ismail and other officials are reacting cautiously to the incident.  “We do not know whether it is a letter bomb,” Ismail told The Independent, “It can be anything so it is only fair if we wait for police to conclude the investigations. We might have exaggerated the situation.”

The police too are maintaining a tight-lid on the information.

Police spokesperson, Judith Nabakooba, in comments to The Independent at one point even denied receiving any reports from parliament regarding the `letter bomb’.

“We have not received any complaint and we have cross checked with the director Parliamentary Police  but he has said there was no letter bomb.”

As the story spreads on the grapevine and both parliament and the police either issue denials or attempt to downplay the incident, attention is shifting to speculation about who would want to harm the Speaker.

As police and parliament try to reveal as little information as they can about the supposed letter, observers says such an incident whether true or false should be considered as a threat to Speaker Rebecca Kadaga’s security.  MakaraSabiti, a Senior- Lecturer at Department of Political Science & Public Administration Makerere University says that the so-called letter bomb could be a warning and not necessarily intended to kill her.

“She could be targeted because there could be some political difference,” Makara said, “If something bad happens to the Speaker, it would not reflect well on the government. It is possible that the gay community may be targeting her but that can also be checked.”

He said Kadaga’s security needs to be tightened.

“In her position, she is likely to handle all sorts of controversial issues so such threats will not put her down. She is an iron lady,” Makara said, “She can play it cool and as a top leader, she must expect such as risks that come with high political offices.”

Prof. George William Kanyeihamba, a retired Supreme Court judge who is a friend to Kadaga says claims that the government could be linked to the `letter bomb” are unfounded. He said that is not the government’s style. He recalled the past during the liberation war where some people are reported to have suggested assassination as one of the methods to get rid of some officials of the government then and how it was rejected.

“Our leader, President Museveni refused. I am absolutely shocked abut such news. It is not the culture of Ugandans to assassinate its leaders. They can threaten, disagree with you but cannot kill you. Assassination is against Ugandan culture,” Kanyeihamba said.   Theodore Sekikuubo, Lwemiyaga Member of Parliament agrees.

“I have read the story about the so-called letter bomb written by The Observer but I am not sure of the details.  It is an indication that power struggle is reaching another level.  Such a method has not been known, so it is a matter of national importance and there is need to look at all options and possible motives of the assassin.”

He adds that anybody in that position should be alert because it will be destructive if such security lapses are allowed in our security.

“If it is government that undertook to provide her security it will be unfortunate for government to abandon her now.”

Sekikuubo says it is possible to detect the motive of those targeting Kadaga by tracing her movements, activities, and those threatened by the positions she takes and those threatened by her. He adds that as a prominent person she is bound to be a target but he hopes this incident though serious, “will not be an escalation to the power struggle.”

Away from Uganda, package or letter bombs have been used to target specific individuals for numerous reasons. They can be designed in different shapes, and sizes and can contain dangerous substance which when opened explode, seriously injuring or killing the victim.  Nabakooba says expertise is required to detect whether such an object is a bomb, because some may have gun powder, oil or unusual; substances. The letter may have excess tape or protruding wires.  She urges the public to be more vigilant as anybody can send a bomb through flowers and letters. She said. However, this has not been prevalent in Uganda.  She asks everybody to report such events involving suspicious parcels.

Enock Kusasira , the spokesperson of Mulago hospital  told The Independent that there is no record that shows that Kabogoza was admitted at the hospital.

On Feb.4, Ismail told The Independent that Kabogoza is back in office.

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