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Beware, this ‘third force’ idea is unwise

The smouldering fire from the fallout in the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) may not burn out anytime soon. But it’s unlikely the party will catch fire.

FDC is Uganda’s main opposition party even though it has been around for just over a decade. It had elections for its president recently. Open competition and contestation for FDC leadership has become routine, in stark contrast to the ruling NRM where the chairman has a huge phobia for being challenged.

There was competition in choosing the party’s secretary general and treasurer. This ended. To bring all authority under his full control, two years ago, the chairman secured the power to appoint those officials to serve at his pleasure.

In effect then, one can conclude that the NRM chairman effectively abolished democratic procedure in choosing party leaders to run the secretariat.

This was done with a convenient excuse – the need to maintain cohesion and unity in the party. The resolve to continue suspending competition is inexorably strengthened when Museveni and those around him observe the turbulence that rocks FDC after interparty elections.

In all fairness, though, the NRM is hardly a political party. It’s an entity that feeds off the state, parasitically, and lacks independent existence. And the reason is simple. The one-man life-presidency that defines the current rule in Uganda is inherently at odds with an independent and functional political party.

As the main opposition party, the FDC had to demonstrate that it can depart from the anti-democratic tendencies of the ruling party. Credit goes to the two protagonists who have been the leading players in the FDC, Mugisha Muntu and Kizza Besigye, the former for the willingness to challenge for leadership and the latter for the openness to being challenged.

Competition can be decidedly destabilizing. It can create rifts and wrangles, animosity and antagonism. But a serious nascent political party must subject itself to these uncomfortable pangs of institution-building. If FDC can survive through its cycles of instability, it may well have a very long lifespan.

Patrick Oboi Amuriat, the new FDC president, deserves to be saluted. When he first expressed interest in competing for the party’s topmost job, not many thought of him as a serious contender, let alone a possible eventual winner.

Amuriat’s victory surprised many. For one, on the balance of things, Muntu has a bigger and better CV than Amuriat. Second, the power of incumbency would ordinarily advantage Muntu.

Amuriat takes credit for positioning himself as totally different from Muntu in approach and orientation, giving delegates clear-cut choices. As to whether he will come through with the grand promises and effect a radically different and consequential leadership remains to be seen.

A lot has been said and much speculation has gone around about Muntu’s next move and future political fate. Perhaps the most palpable suggestion is a possible departure from the FDC and the formation of a ‘third force’.

I will be happy to eat humble pie, but let me stake out this. I can claim to know Muntu a little bit having interacted with him, closely, countless times over the last few years. It’s unlikely that he will walk out of FDC despite the pressures and demands of his supporters and sympathisers.

At any rate, if he and others go on to form the so-called ‘third force’, it will be a most unwise move, one that Mr Museveni and his handlers will be very pleased with. They will, in fact, encourage it because it serves them perfectly in the desperation to maintain a grip on power.

There might be some good reasons to think of an alternative political vehicle in the quest to free Uganda of the Museveni misrule. Unfortunately, in the current political terrain, there is little room for a third vehicle and path.

There is no genuine multiparty politics where ideas can contend and different programs can be showcased. Instead, we have a sharp divide between those struggling to end the current system of rule and those fighting to keep it in place.

Every election is a referendum on change or no change. Amuriat deserves the chance to lead FDC. To lead effectively, he needs the goodwill of all FDC leaders and supporters.

Muntu and those close to him may feel he was denied precisely that goodwill and support by sections of the party that rallied behind Amuriat.

But Muntu has always underlined his firm belief in democratic values and principles, among which is his consistent stance that after losing an election, you fall behind whoever has carried the day.

Notwithstanding the gratuitous ridicule and denigration thrown at him over the years, Muntu would best serve his name and track-record by sticking to his values, and not giving in to those urging him to hang his FDC boots.

The author is an assistant professor of political science at North Carolina State University.


+2 #11 Lysol 2017-12-09 02:40
A third force is good if it can do a better job. It can come from within the system itself like in Zimbabwe, or from outside and not necessarily from the FDC or any known political party.

The current political situation points to the possibility of a third force. Uganda may be up for grabs sooner than later.
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0 #12 sn 2017-12-09 16:54
A third force only goes to confirm the NRM mole narative.

We remember Amana Mbabazi after failing to lead a combined opposition. Hii third force only served to bolster NRM and weaken the opposition.

There was nothing much to show that he was not working for NRM.
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-1 #13 Akot 2017-12-09 19:51
Lysol, agreed.

But continued division & lack of awareness of situation by opposition leaders only make Uganda more vulnerable to any thief/conqueror, because without just 1 opposition leadership, there is no way museveni will be out!
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0 #14 Akot 2017-12-09 19:57
sn, thanks!

Mbabazi only came as opposition to ensure museveni stayed on hoping the dictator would give him back his post! But museveni preferes letting Mbabazi pay for swindling of money donated for N.Uganda & the dictator was the clean one face to donors!

Yet, today, things are back to before last election: +1 opposition will ensure museveni's place again, if there will be election because I don't see why Ugandans would vote knowing the result won't be other than the only one!

Why would Ugandans elect Mayors-MPs knowing these do not have the right to work for electorate?
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0 #15 Akot 2017-12-09 20:07
zungulu zzungulu, thanks!

Personally, I don't see why, without just 1 opposition leader to Unite Ugandans, our people can't Unite just to throw museveni out, then Mayors run affaires while Speaker of Assembly takes charge of parliament, until Ugandans decide what they want!

Museveni won't be around to steal money or throw Ugandans against one another, but ALL will work to give chance to a tomorrow!
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0 #16 Akot 2017-12-09 20:20
There we go, when Akot tells the right things & sees things as they are, Akot gets RED!

How on earth will Ugandans get change if they are so naive & want to be praised for doing wrong things/just going along like brainless & keeping museveni in power, instead of doing the right things that will get the demon out of power?

Without Unity with just 1 opposition leader museveni is goig no where because Ugandans would rather have him instead of being confused further by +1 opposition leaders!

The outside world knows there has been no opposition leadership since Dr Besigye & since then they never talk about Ugandans!

Believe me, I am a news consumer & know Uganda is considered a peaceful democratic prosperous country under museveni, by the outside world!

Well, even Acholi don't listen to Akot & they are also helping museveni own Uganda!
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0 #17 Akot 2017-12-09 20:27
ricardo nyanza, thanks!

As it is, without Unity of Ugandans against museveni or forming Independent Tribal States, there will be more intertribal division & more tribal leaders will want their share from the chief tribal leader, museveni!

Why are Ugandans so naive & not aware museveni will soon replace tribal leaders by Rwandese governors when he gets control of the entire zone?

Prevention is better than cure, yet for Ugandans, they have to be out of the frying pan & into the fire to understand!

Who will get Ugandans out of the fire when there is no one to get them out of the frying pan?
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0 #18 Akot 2017-12-09 20:37
Hoi, thanks!

Ugandans have not yet woken to see they are in with museveni/family for ever because the demon is a genious in deceit & gets what he wants!

T.May-Macron would never even think of walking uninvited into their Cities Mayors' Offices or tell them how to run their Cities!

Every one learns through past mistakes, except Ugandans who want their past erased & only keep alive bad ones to let anger stay alive, yet want change without even going for it!

Look at how ridiculous Acholi are: isolated-killed-sent into exile abroad-put in UN refugee camps-taken in by Buganda..., yet, they are today crawling before museveni, instead of formin Independent State!
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0 #19 Akot 2017-12-09 20:44
Quoting Hoi:
... Ugandans want change. But it is not for FDC to tell us what change means.

For me, change is not political. Change is ideological and national.

things most Ugandans want are buried underneath ugly political contestations for power. We need better services and better opportunities not more egos on the loose! This is a national ideological crisis.


This is why we must stop giveing RED notations & just listen/share opinions & get them together for common goal: "liberation of the country"!

How can any people with brains be locked in "age bill" of a dictator, more so one they gave shelter to?

Ugandans have surrendered their belonging to their country, yet get at one another even when all will be rendered landless by musevnei!
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0 #20 Akot 2017-12-09 20:54
Lysol, agreed, yet,

Hoi is right, museveni is smart & has upper hand in every thing he does!

Did the demon not restore tribal rules & Ugandans went along without even asking why?

Has he not held Uganda locked in his age bill & Ugandans go along discussing it while Education-Health-Agriculture... is subjects of no importance?

Did museveni not destroy Acholi for 30 years, yet got them on his side today?

If there was leadership in Acholi, it would have been the first Independent Tribal State a while ago & not even UN would have objected then!

Now museveni has Ugandans by the balls & will squeeze as & when he deems necessary!

But we are still getting at one another instead of Uniting agains the chief tribal leader who has no tribal land in the zone!
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