President Museveni yesterday skipped the Namugongo Martyrs Day celebrations because he was reportedly visiting the widow of the former Tanzanian leader.
Sources, who could not be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, said the President visited Ms Maria Nyerere, the widow of the late Julius Nyerere, at a hospital in Kampala.
The source said Ms Nyerere, 88, developed health complications the night before the event.
Ms Nyerere has been travelling from Tanzania to Namugongo to celebrate Martyrs Day for 13 consecutive years.
The source said by the time Mr Museveni was done with the visit, it was too late for him to connect to Namugongo.
The source added that he did not want the faithful to wait for so long and therefore, sent representatives; the Vice President, Mr Edward Ssekandi, to the Catholic shrine and the Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, to the Anglican shrine.
When contacted, Mr Don Wanyama, the senior presidential press secretary, said it was not a must that the President attends the event.
“Are you saying he must attend the Martyrs Day events? The President was represented at the events,” Mr Wanyama said.
Efforts to get a comment from the Tanzanian High Commissioner Grace Mgovano about the health situation of Ms Nyerere were futile as our calls were unanswered.
Mr Moses Kasujja, the spokesperson of Foreign Affairs, couldn’t comment on the issue.
“It is Lindah Nabusaayi, who is handling Maama Nyerere’s visit. Call her, she will give you the details,” Mr Kasujja said.
Our calls to Ms Nabusayi went unanswered.
On June 1, President Museveni and Ms Nyerere attended a special Mass at the Catholic shrine in remembrance of the contribution of the late Nyerere to Africa and Christianity.
Since 2009, the Catholic faithful have been holding Mass at Namugongo for beatification and canonisation of the late Nyerere.
Mr Museveni said no one had made a bigger contribution in four million years in the African race and cause than the late Nyerere.
Nyerere provided material support to Mr Museveni’s rebel group to dislodge former president Idi Amin.