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Besigye’s tours unsettle Amuriat, Nandala, NUP

Kizza Besigye

Kizza Besigye

Dr Kizza Besigye, a four-time presidential candidate and former president of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), is causing a stir in Ugandan politics.

Previously perceived by many as a diminished figure, Besigye has recently surprised observers as large crowds have gathered to welcome him in various locations he has visited. Starting last month, he embarked on a nationwide tour to consult FDC members about the future of the party, which was once Uganda’s largest opposition group before being overtaken by the National Unity Platform (NUP) in the 2021 election.

This renewed activity has reignited discussions on social media, especially among NUP supporters. This resurgence of interest follows a period of relative quiet after Besigye began publicly collaborating with Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, president of NUP. NUP supporters have particularly focused on Besigye’s recent declaration in Rukungiri, interpreting it as an indication of his potential interest in the 2026 presidential race.

Despite these speculations, Besigye has consistently expressed his skepticism about the effectiveness of elections in ending President Museveni’s nearly four-decade-long rule. His stance reflects a broader debate within Uganda’s opposition about the best strategies for political change and highlights the ongoing dynamics and challenges within the country’s opposition movement.

The tension is palpable not just within the National Unity Platform (NUP) but also within the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), as internal conflicts arise. Patrick Oboi Amuriat, the president of FDC, has expressed concerns to the media about the need to take legal action against Dr Kizza Besigye and others for allegedly imposing themselves as leaders of the FDC.

The party has experienced significant internal strife, particularly following accusations by Besigye and his supporters that Nathan Nandala- Mafabi, the secretary general of FDC, and Amuriat accepted substantial funds from President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni for use in the 2021 general elections.

TWO FACTION FDC

Since these allegations, the FDC has been divided into two factions: one led by Amuriat and the other by Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago. Since his election in October of the previous year, Amuriat’s leadership has reportedly lacked notable activity. Attempts at party mobilization by the Amuriat-led faction have been met with limited enthusiasm.

A party official, involved in the FDC Najjanankumbi faction’s mobilization tour, confided to The Observer about the generally low morale among FDC supporters nationwide. This situation within the FDC reflects the challenges facing opposition parties in Uganda as they navigate internal disputes and broader political dynamics.

“Truth be told, this is not the FDC I once knew. If we even manage to secure 10 members of parliament in the next election, it would be a miracle. Amuriat and Nandala are particularly challenging to promote, especially following allegations of accepting money from Museveni,” said an FDC member of parliament aligned with the Amuriat faction, who requested anonymity for candid discussion.

FDC currently holds 30 parliamentary seats. Originally winning 32, the party faced setbacks with Moses Atan’s defeat in Soroti West and the passing of Cecilia Atim Ogwal, whose daughter was recently defeated in a by-election. Another party official, speaking under the condition of anonymity, criticized the management style of Nandala, the party’s secretary, whose position is being withheld to maintain confidentiality. “Nandala’s management of the party is highly inefficient.

Even basic necessities like water for meetings cannot be procured without his permission. Amuriat seems powerless, as nothing progresses without Nandala’s approval. It’s incredibly frustrating,” the official revealed.

Therefore, Besigye’s recent nationwide consultation tours have emerged amid a party grappling with survival, possibly explaining Amuriat’s strong reaction. Amuriat appears to perceive Besigye’s actions as a threat to the stability of the nearly 20-year-old party.

Speaking with The Observer, Harold Kaija, the acting secretary general of the FDC Katonga faction, discussed their current efforts. According to Kaija, their tours are designed to consult FDC members about the party’s future direction. In February, the party convened a National Council meeting where six resolutions were passed in response to the internal fallout.

These resolutions include attempts to reconcile with the Najjanankumbi faction, considering the formation of a new political group, pursuing legal action regarding the election of Amuriat and his colleagues, and potentially joining other political parties. Kaija noted that, with the exception of Kasese, FDC members in regions they have visited are largely in favor of establishing a new political party.

“What we are doing is acting upon the council members’ decision regarding our future course. We have visited sub-regions including Buganda, Busoga, Ankole, Kigezi, and Rwenzori. Except in Kasese, where people expressed a preference for first attempting reconciliation with the Najjanankumbi group or forcefully evicting them from our party headquarters, the consensus elsewhere leans towards forming a new entity,” Kaija said. He suggested that Amuriat’s frustration with their mobilization stems from his faction being a “shell without people.”

He accused Amuriat’s group of misrepresenting themselves to Museveni and leading a party devoid of actual followers.

“There’s still a court case pending to determine the legitimate leadership of the FDC. Unless Amuriat knows the judgment outcome, we remain legitimate FDC members with every right to mobilize for the party,” he added.

Regarding some opposition supporters’ belief that Besigye is aiming to regain his status as a leading opposition figure, Kaija clarified that this is not their primary focus. Their current activities are centered around determining the best path forward for their faction and the FDC at large.

SIMPLY CONSULTING

“We are simply consulting, and if anyone interprets it differently, that’s their issue. Dr Besigye has repeatedly stated his belief that Museveni cannot be ousted through elections,” Kaija stated.

In a conversation with The Observer, Walid Lubega, the deputy publicity secretary at the FDC Najjanankumbi, expressed concerns about Besigye’s current activities.

“We wouldn’t have an issue with Besigye and his associates if they weren’t persuading FDC members to leave the party,” he said.

“Dr Besigye has been a key figure in mobilizing for the party, but now he seems to be doing the opposite. They appear to be forming a new party and are using our party structures to initiate it. When the FDC was established, I don’t recall any consultations with DP and UPC. They are utilizing our structures, logo, emblem, and other materials to campaign against us. It falls upon all party leaders to safeguard the party,” Lubega elaborated. He recognized that while Besigye and his group are still FDC members, their current actions conflict with the goal of fostering a unified FDC.

“The individuals leading this effort are currently our members, and they carry significant influence in our party. Imagine Dr Kizza Besigye inviting a sub-county leader to a meeting; he will undoubtedly be heard due to the respect he commands. Therefore, when we see them engaging with our leaders, it is a cause for concern. If we weren’t worried, it would indicate irresponsibility. As the current leaders of the FDC, we cannot permit anyone to exploit our party structures,” Lubega explained.

mmkakembo@gmail.com

Comments

+1 #1 Abalang 2024-04-10 13:29
There's an old saying in Teso that you would hear from a mother of an unruly child, that 'I buried the child but kept the placenta!'

I now have many questions about the reliability of the opposition leadership. They come, they convince us, they lose election (even if by design), others make names and then money, other fragment the same pie and still expect to win against a well consolidated incumbent, when in fact, fortification of their base should be the opposition strategy. FDC, please rethink and replan and reconcile, otherwise, the outcome will be the same as has been.
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+1 #2 Labeja Santos John 2024-04-10 17:02
No contradictions from the rubble-raiser?
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-2 #3 Remase 2024-04-11 00:18
Fellow Ugandans, we are in a quagmire and our country is under distribution by M7. Opposition mean democracy and rule of law.

However, there's neither democracy nor rule of law in Uganda but rule of the gun held by mulitants. It's M7's militants who own the so called political party, National Resistance Movement, formerly known as National Resistance Army [militants].

What is it that our so called opposition parties opposing? M7 has surrounded the entire country with militants who are now led by his son, Muhoozi M7.

Besigye is the only one who has made the right diagnosis that elections can't dislodge M7 from power. However, on 4 occasions, Dr. Besigye has made the wrong prescription, elections, as the means to dislodge M7!
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+2 #4 Remase 2024-04-11 00:47
With clear knowledge that he made the wrong prescription 4 times, Dr. Besigye needs to be clear of his strategy this time.

Forming a new political party is certainly not the right answer. If FDC failed to dislodge M7 and it is in bed with M7, how is it possible that the new party will be different from the current FDC or other opposition political parties?

The other day, traders in Kampala and Masaka closed their shops in protest of high and mulple taxes which are designed to impoverish the citizens and make us poppers in our country.

However, Kyagulanyi/NUP/Senyonyi (LoP) and/or the opposition were busy making a budget in parliament how to spend our taxpayers money! They didn't care about the pain the traders are going through! All they cared about is their own interests and how best they can share our taxpayers money with M7!
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0 #5 Remase 2024-04-11 00:52
Therefore, if Besigye is consulting the nation in order to form a new political party, he will be recycling the same problem over and over again and expect different results!
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+1 #6 naboma 2024-04-11 15:25
Quoting Remase:
Therefore, if Besigye is consulting the nation in order to form a new political party, he will be recycling the same problem over and over again and expect different results!


Besigye is doing something and he has explained that only a political party and him standing is the only way he will be allowed to rally the masses to rebellion against the dictatorship.

Yet we the elites including you and I only sit in the comfort of our offices and write without giving any solution. At least Besigye has proven his consistency in the fight against the regime and in my view we have let him down when he has led protest from the front , yet we continue to blame him...at least he is better off doing something than idle around and just talk like many of us are doing.
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+1 #7 Kidepwe 2024-04-12 17:54
James Hadley Chase authored one of many novels called "The Guilty Are Also Afraid". Why should Besigye's countrywide tours trouble Amuriat and Mandala, unless they had skeletons they are hiding, in the cupboards of Najjanankumbi?

Besigye might be one of just a handful of politicians in this, that has been consistent in his principles.
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