Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Everything possible was done to see Besigye make it in 2011 polls and things did not work. The best he can do is retire as regards standing for Presidency. Out there, many people see Besigye as they do Museveni, so it is wrong to imagine that frustrated have Besigye as their salvation. There are many bulls in the kraal. You cannot fail so many times and think there is a miracle to happen. It will not!
William Kituuka kiwanuka

Written by Edward Ssekika & Emma Mutaizibwa
Wednesday, 13 July 2011 20:43

The vultures that were prematurely hovering over Dr Kizza Besigye’s political graveside in anticipation of his retirement might find no carcass to feed on.
It is now emerging that he could return as FDC flag bearer in 2016. Besigye told a party retreat in Mukono on July 9 that the media previously quoted him out of context. He said he had only revealed that he would retire as party president.
It was reported last week that not only would Besigye retire as party President, he would also not seek another shot at the presidency come 2016. The FDC constitution only allows Besigye to lead the party for two terms, which expire in 2014.
Indeed, Besigye said: “I have been telling members of NEC that I should hand over the party leadership even before 2014.”
However, the party’s constitution puts no restrictions on anyone seeking to stand as presidential candidate. While this paves way for Besigye to stand in 2016, he will have to first navigate through the internal dynamics of the party, as the issue of his continued stay could polarise FDC.
Indeed, two camps have emerged: the conservatives who believe Besigye is the only leader that can galvanise the party, and the progressives who believe his defeat in the 2011 polls authored his political obituary.
But even within the two camps, there is another sub-plot where the combustible issue of ethnicity has been thrust in the succession debate, suggesting that the next FDC president should not emerge from western Uganda.
Aswa county MP, Reagan Okumu, who is a leading exponent of ethnic balance, says the FDC flag bearer in 2016 should be someone from any of Buganda, eastern or northern Uganda.
The conservatives argue that if Besigye had not been a victim of rigging in all the three elections he has lost to the incumbent, President Museveni, he would be Uganda’s head of state.
Kumi MP, Patrick Amuriat Oboi, argues: “We have the objective of getting into power in the near future, which is hinged on the strength of Besigye as an individual”.
He adds that the general view held by many party members and independent observers is that Besigye is the individual who can get the party to power.
“My counsel is that Besigye should listen to the voices of people; we are on a journey to get to power,” Amuriat said.
However, the progressives caution that FDC will be falling in the same trap as the ruling party if Besigye remains its candidate.
“Our main departure from the NRM in the 7th Parliament was the decision to make it appear that it’s only Museveni who would hand the party victory,” argues an FDC leader, who asked not to be named.
“In the Bible, Moses started the exodus but did not make it to the promised land. There is no doubt Dr Besigye has made a big contribution; he has played his part and cannot add [any more] value,” he adds.
To this leader, the party ought to elect someone whose appeal will cut across the spectrum and attract moderates.
“We need to appeal to a section even within the NRM. There are rational people who are tired of the way Museveni is running the economy and the corrupt regime. Most of the middle class does not necessarily support Museveni, but they vote him,” he said.
Citing the acrimonious NRM primaries, which were marred by rigging, the source said: “When a regime is about to collapse, there is usually an implosion. Even those who were cheated chose to stay with NRM; why didn’t they cross to FDC? We need a candidate that can appeal even to those who want to leave the NRM.”
But another insider who declined to be named said there is political inertia that will resist another flag bearer except Besigye. A number of delegates at the retreat that The Observer spoke to suggested that Besigye should hand over the party leadership but remain the party’s presidential flag bearer in 2016.
It is believed that if Besigye chooses to stand again, he will alienate a number of people in his party and also lose the moral authority to criticise Museveni for overstaying in power. But a researcher at the Makerere Institute of Social Research, Dr Fredrick Golooba Mutebi, argues that in Uganda political parties are built around personality cults.
“The reality is that there is no NRM without Museveni and no FDC without Besigye,” he said.
Some in FDC argue that Besigye’s departure as a party president in 2014 is likely to further split the already divided party. A number of party officials believe that Besigye is hanging his boots at the wrong time and should stay both as party president and flag bearer.
Ayebale Kanyarutooke, the FDC district chairman for Kibaale district, is totally against Besigye’s retirement.
“Much as our constitution limits him, I don’t support the idea of Besigye leaving in 2014. How can he leave us in the middle of the struggle?” he asks.
On the other hand, the Lira district FDC chairman, Patrick Ayena, is one of the officials supporting Besigye’s retirement.
“It will set a good precedent and strengthen the party,” he said. However, Ayena will be part of the bigger group pushing for Besigye’s return as a presidential flag bearer in 2016 because, according to him, Besigye is “still young and has a lot to offer to this country”.
Rukia Nakigudde, who lost in the contest for Masaka Woman MP, said “[Besigye’s] retirement would be good for the party, but the problem is shopping for a suitable replacement”.

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