Presidential aspirant, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu aka Bobi Wine has announced that his People Power movement has morphed into a political party, the National Unity Party.
Speaking at his People Power secretariat in Kamwokya Wednesday, Kyagulanyi said that for the last two years, they have been in negotiations with the National Unity, Reconciliation and Development Party under Moses Kibalama Nkonge when it became apparent that they couldn't register a new party.
"Our discussions and debates led us to the conclusion that it was both untimely and unpractical to form a political party. And, in any case, we were alive to the fact that the regime would foil any attempt to register People Power as a political party. And indeed at the end of 2018, our legal team tried to reserve the name, People Power just in case we needed to formally register at some point. But as we expected, we found that this name had been reserved and flagged so that we don’t register it. Since then we have continued to struggle as a political and social movement advocating for change in our motherland Uganda.
Kibalama said when Kyagulanyi reached out to them; they realized that he had the same aspirations as those of their party. He said that taking over the presidency of the party by Kyagulanyi is a dream come true for them.
It is a change in the political tone for Kyagulanyi, who, in the past scoffed at the idea of belonging to a political party, reasoning that he needs not to be in any political party for him to espouse his political views. He argued then that Uganda has over 29 registered political parties, but they had failed to change leadership from the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM).
But now, he says it was important for them to have a political party to participate in the coming elections with one symbol for everyone contesting under their umbrella. Kyagulanyi said he was alive to the fact that the political environment in the country is very hostile to political parties but having a political party is the only a meaningful way to have a say over those who will contest on their ticket in the 2021 elections.
The party has the umbrella as its symbol.
“Our view has been that we maintain People Power as a political movement that brings all Ugandans from different political formations advocating and struggling for change. Our mission has been and continues to be mission 2021. We have been telling people to register and vote. We know that is the only legal opportunity to overwhelm the Museveni dictatorship,” Kyagulanyi said.
He revealed that having realized that they would never be registered as a new political party early enough for them to participate in the next election; they decided to work silently to identify a party they can use as a vehicle towards 2021. That’s how they zeroed down on the 16 year-old-National Unity, Reconciliation and Development Party.
Both Kyagulanyi and Kibalama do not reveal which kind of deal they agreed upon for him to take over the party. However, Kibalama, who has been the National Unity Party president for 16 years, on July 14, stepped down and a delegate’s conference attended by 60 members at Kakiri hotel, who elected Kyagulanyi unopposed as the new president.
The party also agreed to change the name from National Unity, Reconciliation and Development Party to National Unity Platform (NUP). David Lewis Rubongoya, the People Power secretary-general, will serve in the same role in NUP. On what will be the fate of people who belong to other political parties but embraced People Power, Kyagulanyi said they are still in conversation with the parties.
He said the fate of the reportedly 10,000 people who had expressed interest in standing in the next elections using People Power will be determined by the discussion with their mother parties.
“We have been having engagements with other comrades to ensure that we have a People Power alliance, we shall continue with that and the details will be explained by the election management committee that we put in place,” Kyagulanyi said.
Francis Zaake, the Mityana Municipality MP welcomed the development, saying he was happy to be part of the formation while Mathias Mpuuga, the Masaka Municipality MP said it was vital for People Power to have a political party to support its followers.