Controversy Surrounds Joel Ssenyonyi’s Negotiations with Government for Release of Specific Political Prisoners

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Leader of Opposition Joel Ssenyonyi is facing criticism after it was revealed that he has been negotiating privately with the government to secure the release of a select group of political prisoners. This news has caused frustration among other prisoners who accuse Ssenyonyi of betraying their leader, Robert Kyagulanyi, who has stood firm on not negotiating with the government for anything be it their release.

Relatives of the prisoners have reported receiving calls from their incarcerated loved ones, informing them about Ssenyonyi’s visit to the prison and his conversations with only a few prisoners, instead of addressing the entire group as is customary. According to these relatives, Ssenyonyi approached the chosen prisoners and discussed with them the necessary steps they should take to secure their release.

“Ssenyonyi told the few prisoners he met that he was in close negotiations with the government regarding their release. He instructed them to promise to work closely with him and denounce their defiance as it hampers their chances of being freed. The party has attempted to secure their release in the past but has failed. Therefore, Ssenyonyi argues that negotiating for a few prisoners at a time might yield better results,” said one of the prisoners’ relatives.

However, inside sources within the prison claim that Ssenyonyi’s efforts to secure the release of only a select group of prisoners are motivated by his association with Sipapa (real name – Olimu Charles), who has influenced these prisoners during their time in prison. Allegedly, Sipapa has convinced them to let Ssenyonyi negotiate for their release instead of wasting away behind bars.

These revelations have caused a rift among National Unity Platform (NUP) supporters in prison, as Ssenyonyi’s favoritism and selective approach have come under scrutiny. The prisoners find it confusing that the leaders of NUP, who pushed them to defy the government and landed them in prison, now ask them to denounce some party directives in order to secure their release.

The NUP party has consistently adhered to a no-negotiation policy with the government regarding the release of its members. This stance has been maintained despite calls from political activists like Abed Bwanika, who previously urged NUP to engage in negotiations for the freedom of its incarcerated members, viewing it as the most viable approach.

Ssenyonyi’s recent actions could potentially ignite a major controversy within the party’s leadership, similar to what happened to Mathias Mpuuga in the past. Mpuuga was also accused of negotiating for the release of MPs Ssegirinya and Sswewanyana, which stirred significant controversy and debate within the party ranks.

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