Mbabazi, Besigye divide alliance

Amama Mbabazi

Some TDA members vow to fight Besigye; others are opposed to Mbabazi

FDC flag bearer Col Kizza Besigye’s campaign for The Democratic Alliance nomination as the joint presidential candidate has begun to run into some opposition from within the TDA.

TDA brings together opposition forces hoping to field a strong joint candidate with a chance of defeating President Museveni in the 2016 elections. The TDA joint candidate will be selected from candidates presented by members of the alliance or any independent candidate, who signs onto the alliance protocol.

TDA membership is comprised of Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Democratic Party (DP), Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Conservative Party (CP), Justice Forum (JEEMA), Uganda Federal Alliance (UFA) and Pressure for National Unity, a pressure group led by Prof Gilbert Bukenya.

So far, it is only Prof Gilbert Bukenya, who has been duly nominated for the joint presidential candidate race. Besigye and Norbert Mao, the DP president, are expected to seek nomination this week.


Whereas Besigye won the FDC presidential flag on a campaign for elections after reforms, some TDA members have publicly disagreed with that view. Prof Gilbert Bukenya, a member of the TDA summit, told journalists during his nomination that he does not agree with Besigye’s school of thought.

“I am not a believer in no reforms no elections...we shall embark on meaningful reforms after changing the government,” Bukenya said.

While appearing on Capital Gang radio talk show last week, Uganda Federal Alliance president Beti Kamya, another TDA summit member, said: “What brings me together [with other forces] is the election not the campaign for reforms...According to Besigye his focus is election after reforms, which view is not viable.”

Similarly, sources that attended DP’s National Executive Committee last week have intimated to us that DP President Norbert Mao said he would not support Besigye.

“He told us that Besigye has been responsible for creating factions within DP and any support rendered to him is an indication that we are defeated,” an insider DP source said.

The selection of the TDA joint presidential candidate will take a new dimension, if former prime minister John Patrick Amama Mbabazi finally agrees to join the alliance.

According to a source on the TDA summit, which will choose the joint presidential candidate, the admission of Mbabazi means that the race for a joint presidential candidate might boil down to a duel between Mbabazi and Besigye.

“It is only those two [Besigye and Mbabazi] who I can now see as our only possible options for the joint presidential candidate,” the source said.

Last week, Mbabazi used his first meeting with TDA to plead for more time before he joins the alliance. Whereas Mbabazi had requested two weeks, the summit decided to push the nominations deadline from September 5 to September 10.


As Mbabazi seeks to join the alliance, insiders say the different principals within the Summit that will choose the joint presidential candidate will be split between Mbabazi and Besigye.

“In fact, the recent events that have happened within TDA have indicated the division...I will not get surprised if this plays out at the stage of selecting the joint presidential candidate,” one principal said.

One such event, where the TDA principals got divided was during a discussion on granting more time to Mbabazi to decide whether or not to join the alliance. We are told that some forces, perceived to be pro-Besigye, objected to Mbabazi’s request for more time.

“Their contention was premised on the view that ‘let Mbabazi not hold us back; he [Mbabazi] will join in due course’. But underneath this tone was the indication that ‘we have Besigye why waste time on Mbabazi’,” said a source.

Another event that has exposed divided opinions is the yet-to-be concluded discussion on an application for admission into the alliance by Truth and Justice (TJ), a DP splinter group led by Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago.

We are told that some summit members, particularly Mao and Kamya, are fighting the admission of Lukwago’s group because it goes against the spirit of the alliance. Kamya’s objection is borne out of her realisation that Moses Kasibante, a leading member of the Lukwago DP group, wants to run on the TDA ticket for the Lubaga North seat that she too is interested in.

However, Basalirwa and Mulwanyamuli Ssemwogerere, the former Buganda katikkiro, have told the summit that there is no problem with admitting Lukwago’s group into the alliance. The two claim that Lukwago and team have been with the alliance irrespective of the internal disagreements within DP.

Sources say that forces perceived to be pro-Besigye are pushing for Lukwago’s admission to have more pro-Besigye forces within the summit. When contacted, Basalirwa told The Observer that it was speculative to assume that his support for TJ’s admission is premised on being a Besigye sympathiser.

“My push for TJ’s admission is based on the principle that TDA is a group of democracy-seeking Ugandans and as such Lukwago’s group is one such group,” he said.


Whereas the TDA protocol provides that the procedure for selecting the joint presidential candidate shall be agreed by the summit through consensus, some people say this is unlikely to happen.

“Both Mbabazi and Besigye have got some considerable support within the summit, which means that it would be extremely hard for the two sides to agree by consensus and as such expect a vote,” said one source, who sits on the summit.

TDA summit is expected to announce the joint presidential candidate on September 14.


© 2016 Observer Media Ltd