RIP. Eriya Kategaya

Senior Presidential Advisor Martin Aliker is known for shooting from the hip and in a 2013 interview he told Dr. Sue Onslow of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at University of London that President Yoweri Museveni and former strong ally, First Deputy Prime Minister Eriya Kategeya, were not particularly friends at the time the celebrated Dental Surgeon served in Cabinet.
According to Dr. Aliker, Kategaya, a one-time strong comrade of Museveni who at the time also served as foreign minister would be by-passed in hierarchy and he (Aliker), expressly assigned foreign duties by the President.
‘Museveni appointed me as a Minister of State for International Affairs, but my letter of appointment said: “You report directly to me.” So, I was like a teenage son, because Kategaya knew that he was not my boss. But because of his personality and because of his not being a friend of Museveni, he was willing to accept me. But I felt sometimes very awkward because Museveni would call me, would send me overseas, without Kategaya knowing anything about it’, Dr. Aliker is quoted as saying in the interview.
In 2003 Kategaya and a few other ministers including Miria Matembe fell out with the National Resistance Movement (NRM) after opposing the amendment of the Constitution to remove the tw0-five-year term cap. He was subsequently fired.
Meanwhile, in the wide-ranging 2013 interview, Dr. Aliker also talked about his immense global connections and how Mr. Museveni leveraged those connections to cause rapport with the western powers like the United States and United Kingdom, with former Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi.
‘I was…to the last of his days, the go-between. I went to visit Gaddafi several times – on behalf of my government and some other foreign governments as well,’ Dr Aliker told interviewer Dr. Sue Onslow.
He added: ‘And he (Gaddafi), went to Museveni as Chairman of the OAU and asked him if he could talk to the Americans. Museveni had no connection with the Americans, so he called me and he asked me to go and plead with the Americans to allow the case to be transferred to the UK. I remember telling him, I said, “Sir, I have succeeded in doing many things for you, but this one is going to be difficult because American public opinion is very much against the Libyans.” And he said, “Oh, well, you just go and add your little voice.” So, I called a friend in Washington who organised for me to meet with people from the CIA, and I was shocked – I made the request and they said, “We have no objection transferring the case to the UK, because British law is the same as ours.” And they said, “We will allow this case to be transferred to the UK.” And as I got up to leave, they said to me, “This time we are not going to shoot the messenger. We would have liked to shoot the sender.”’
Dr. Aliker also talks about how he, on being appointed international affairs minister in 1996, helped mend the Uganda-Sudan relations that had broken down in 1995.
‘In 1995, Uganda and the Sudan had broken diplomatic relations, [and] so he brought me in as minister in ‘96. And my first job was to go to Sudan to mend fences. Between ’96 and 2002, I visited Khartoum eight times – talking with Bashir. My conversations with Bashir were not less than two hours – mostly three to four hours. So, Bashir and I know one another quite well,’ Dr. Aliker was quoted saying.
A dental surgeon of long-standing credentials, Dr. Aliker has been involved in politics at the highest levels of Uganda’s statecraft, with General Tito Okello, a former President, suggesting his name for the post-Idi Amin presidency in 1979.
According to Dr. Aliker, shortly before his ouster on July 27, 1985 former President Apollo Milton Obote also offered him to choose between being either Minister of Finance or Foreign Affairs, options that he turned down.