A six-member military commission formed a new Ugandan government today and accused ousted president Godfrey Binalsa of corruption, tribalism and incompetence.
The commission, which has exercised little power until Binaisa's run-in with the military last weekend, is headed by Labor Minister Paulo Muwanga, but it is not clear if he will be the strongman or merely a figurehead for the military.
A spokesman at the presidential residence added to the confusion, saying that Binaisa was still in power.
However, Ugandan radio announced that a three- or four-member presidential commission, presumably to include the military, would soon be named to carry out Binaisa's duties pending elections, which the radio said are still scheduled for December. The 37-member Cabinet was also dismissed.
All cable lines out of the country were cut by the government and the local press ignored the takeover.
Ugandan troops, mainly armed with Chinese AK47 rifles, patroled key installations in downtown Kampala. Tanzanian soldiers, who overthrew dictator Idi Amin last year, still were in control of Entebbe, site of the country's international airport and the presidential residence where Binaisa has reportedly remained.
Reporters trying to see Binaisa were turned away by a Tanzanian captain who said with a grin, "They have a problem and no one is allowed to enter."
Downtown Kampala was virtually deserted and most government offices were closed as workers remained home. But on the outskirts of the capital, markets were open and one bar was overflowing with patrons. As is customary, occasional gunfire was heard as the 10 p.m. curfew approached.
The announcement of a new government did not seem to stir Kampala. One Ugandan, referring to the eight years of Amin's brutality followed by a year of chaos since his overthrow last April, shrugged off the latest confusing scenario saying, "We've gone through so much, one more event does not make any difference."
The radio announcement late this afternoon said the commission had "assumed the powers of the presidency." It said the situation was normal and called on the public to remain calm but left a number of questions unanswered.
The key question is the fate of Binaisa, who has not made any public statement since Saturday, when he precipitated the crisis by firing David Oyite Ojok, the Army chief of staff, for reasons of "national security and unity."
Ojok, who is also on the military commission, resisted and the military stripped Binaisa of power last night.
The radio broadcast made no mention of former president Milton Obote, who is scheduled to return to Uganda from exile in Tanzania later this month to run in the elections. Although Ojok supports Obote, the former president has disclaimed any responsibility for the takeover.
The position of the Tanzanian military is also unclear, Tanzania, has 10,000 troops in the country as a remnant of last year's overthrow of Amin and takeover cannot ultimately be accomplished without Dar es Salaam's acquiescence. The Tanzanians have trained the fledgling 5,000-man Ugandan Army.
Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere, a firm opponent of military coups in Africa, has so far said nothing publicly, but sources close to him say that he is "extremely distressed" that a takeover has occurred. Diplomatic sources say he has been working to bring the warring factions together.
In its original announcement of Binaisa's ouster last night, the military commission tried to gloss over fears of a return to power of the Army as happened under Amin.
"This is an action by the commission, not by the Army. Repeat: this is an action by the commission, not by the Army," the broadcast said.
Muwanga, the head of the military commission, was himself the focus of an earlier government shakeup when he was fired from the position of interior minister.On that occasion, Nyerere influenced Binaisa to appoint Muwanga labor minister.
The radio broadcast this afternoon marked the first time that Binaisa had been attacked personally by the military commission.
"Corruption is the hallmark of the Binaisa government," the radio said. "He has been playing tribe against tribe. He has failed to give direction to his government, and, in effect, the country has had no government and no leadership."