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Netball Coup D’etat: Babirye Betrayed By Byekwaso?

Uganda Netball Federation President Sarah Babirye Kityo’s return to office did not go as planned.

Babirye was asked to step aside from her role as Netball President for three months by First Lady Janet Museveni.

The decision, taken in April, was reached to allow thorough investigations of failed to account for Government funds.

From that meeting held at State House, Babirye and her Federation was also accused of mistreating the players during the 2021 Pent Series including strong accusations of sexual harassments of players!

On Friday morning, Babirye made an announced return to the Netball Offices at Old Kampala saying that her 3-month wait had expired.

There was a carnival atmosphere as the President was greeted by a couple of delegates.

However, Babirye did not have a letter authorizing her to return to office.

In her interview, Babirye told the Press that she didn’t need a letter because she was not given one in the first place when she was told to step aside.

But the celebrations at the Netball Offices were cut short when Police and some army men besieged the area and ordered Babirye and the rest to vacate the area!

Babirye, in a scuffle, asked the armed men on whose orders they were operating under.

But none, including Old Kampala DPC SP Tyson Rutambika, gave a response.

Few minutes later, Netball Vice President Brig Flavia Byekwaso, who was installed as the acting President during Babirye’s forced leave, arrived at the Offices.

There was a heated behind the door meeting that continued between the parties, and Byekwaso later confessed that it was her that brought the Police!

In her defence, Byekwaso said that Babirye should only return to office with a Letter from the First Lady.

Sensing betrayal and power at play, Babirye pulled out her card. And she called a ‘friend’ – Major General Kahinda Otafiire who is the Minister of Internal Affairs.

Babirye asked Otafiire why Police and the army had flooded her office, and after a lengthy conversation, the armed men together with Byekwaso departed on the Minister’s orders.

All this is happening on the day the Country’s gallant She Cranes are set to be flagged off before a send-off Dinner later in the Night.

Also Read: Why Babirye was asked to step aside

“I think I should call this some high level of indiscipline. We have a directive of the First Lady, because under normal circumstances you just can’t push that away,” Byekwaso said of the situation.

“In her counting, she counted the days, perhaps she is right that the three months are over, but I even talked to her yesterday and told her that I have already written to seek guidance to see how we can transit.”

“It’s not our wish to conduct ourselves in a manner like this. We have to follow guidance. It’s me who had called in the Police to calm the situation, because we have a directive from the First Lady and I couldn’t just sit by and look on as if we have anarchy or order that is guiding us.

“Along the way I am told that Otafiire has called to say that Byekwaso should vacate and Sarah stays, and it’s what am doing, I can’t defy orders, the General is a senior Minister, he is my boss.”

Shocked, Betrayed But Confident

With the winds calm, Babirye spoke to the press for her side of the story and narrated how the drama unfolded.

“Police coming here, and ordering us out of the premises, it was a shock but I want to say that we prayed before we started this press conference or meeting. God intervened and all is well,” Babirye said.

“I was a little bit confused and I didn’t know who was behind this and all that. I didn’t see any harm for my return, we didn’t do anything wrong, people were excited and all happy until I saw Police coming in and telling us all to get out

“But I thank God that Police came to know that we are the right people to be in the office. It’s not that we are here by mistake. But finally they talked and sorted themselves out.”

On that call to Maj Gen Otafiire, Babirye stated:

“I called Gen Otafiire because I saw over 20 Policemen storming into our offices, and pushing people out. I don’t have any other Person’s number in Police because my phone got issues. The only contact I had off head was that of General Otafiire because I was with him in the last Parliament, he is also one of my long-term mentors.

“There are few senior people I know off head and him being the Minister of Internal Affairs, I think he was the right person to contact.

“I didn’t know why Police were here until I saw her (Byekwaso) coming in and then I realised they were on her orders. Because Police themselves didn’t tell them who gave them the orders.”

When asked if she feels betrayed by her vice Brig Byekwaso, Babirye commented:

“I don’t know, and I don’t want to use some words, one thing I want to say is that I am okay, the moment I have the delegates on my side the rest is history. And as long as God is with me and am not guilty of anything, the rest is history.

“The Brigadier saying she is working on the orders of the First Lady, probably she should be having a letter. But I have been talking to her everyday, the last time I was talking to her was yesterday, we were planning the flag off, we were planning of how am coming back. They discussed that even in the Executive and all agreed that I should come back, but am surprised on my return.

“If she is saying she was operating on the orders of the First Lady, I appreciate that but I was in that same meeting; the First lady asked me to take a leave for two months, the attorney General asked for that extra month. There was no letter. It was a request actually because I have had people trying to exaggerate it that I am forced, but I haven’t seen any letter directing me to leave office.”

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