A week after the Forum for Democratic Change held nominations for party president elections due in November the ideological divide inside the party came into sharp focus yesterday.
Both Partick Amuriat, the former Kumi MP and Kawempe South MP Mubarak Muyangwa made clear their unhappiness at the way things have been managed at Najjanankumbi, the party headquarters, under the leadership of Maj. Gen. (rtd) Mugisha Muntu.
During Monday morning’s joint press conference convened at the party headquarters attended by all the five candidates, Amuriat and Muyangwa demanded that FDC reverts to its more robust founding posture – a no-holds-barred activism style.
“The party was built on the defiance foundation and therefore we should not adopt other methods of resisting this government,” Amuriat said.
Amuriat was in bullish mood, making the ambitious claim that once elected into office in November, FDC will reclaim its stolen victory from last year’s election.
Former presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye, a man under whose wings Amuriat is believed to be flying, insists that he won the 2016 presidential elections, though the Electoral Commission announced President Yoweri Museveni as the winner.
Amuriat also told the gathered media that not enough pressure is being mounted on Museveni not to amend the Constitution by lifting presidential age limits so as to allow him contest again in 2021.
“We have to give the people political direction, especially on how we plan to govern this country after Museveni,” he said.
Museveni will be 75-plus in 2021 and is ineligible to run for office under the provisions of Article 102(b) of the Constitution. The article places eligibility for duly qualified citizens seeking the presidency within the age bracket 35-75.
This is the same message, Muyangwa is carrying; the party should establish a defiance team.
Like Amuriat, Munyangwa is touting a line popularised and championed by the colourful Dr Besigye. Both politicians are known Besigye loyalists.
But in his address, the usually more restrained Muntu remained true to a recurring theme in his leadership of FDC: the need to prepare this party for the coming change through building strong party structures and recruiting more members.
Official campaigning kicked off last week on Thursday. Candidates are expected to meet the party members within three months and voting is scheduled on November 17.
As the ideological divide has become clearer, so have alliances shifted inside FDC. Former close political buddies now sit on opposite sides of the fence.
Among them include Joyce Sebugwawo, Rubaga division mayor; Bwanika Bbaale, senior NEC member and Livingstone Kizito. All of them joined Amuriat’s camp, a move, political observers say is aimed at Maj. Gen. Muntu.
It’s only Ibrahim Semujju, the Kira Municipality MP, who has abandoned his former comrades in the ‘Beisgye alliance’.
He was appointed to head Muntu’s campaigns while Sebugwawo is managing Amuriat’s. In 2012, Sebugwawo headed Muntu’s campaigns.
Sebugwawo believes Muntu’s time is past; that FDC needs a strong person to progress to the next step.
The race has also attracted activists Moses Byamugisha, Dan Matsiko and Moses Bakubi Lukubira. But it is the unspoken contest between the Muntu and Besigye ideologies which will define this race again.