At exactly 1:50 p.m. today, the FDC electoral commission nominated Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu to run for re-election so as to serve his final term as party president.
Dressed in a blue suit, the retired two star general was accompanied by loyalist legislators, amongst them Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Winfred Kiiza; Makindye East MP Ibrahim Kasozi and Kira Municipality MP Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda.
Before the nomination, the Muntu camp had led a procession in the morning from Bweyogerere, moving up to the nomination centre, through to the party headquarters several miles across town in Najjanankumbi.
In this party presidential race, Maj, Gen. Muntu is facing former MP Patrick Amuriat, Dan Matsiko, Moses Byamugisha, Moses Bakubi and Kawempe South MP Mubarak Munyagwa.
A much-anticipated run-in with perennial rival Nathan Nandala Mafabi did not take off as the FDC secretary general inexplicably did not pick up nomination forms within deadline.
Instead, the party electoral body was left with the fairly little known opponents like Matsiko and Byamugisha to nominate today. Tomorrow, the party will nominate Munyagwa, Amuriat and Bakubi.
Elections are to be held in November this year.
“We shall talk about many things, including the national presidential age limit. This time, we are not ready to see Mr Museveni abrogating our Constitution,” Kasozi told PML Daily, after the nomination.
Kasozi says they are backing their candidate so that he can continue building strong grass root structures, from villages to the districts.
“In last year’s general elections, we got many councillors at the districts and sub-counties because of the structures Muntu formed. And I am sure if we give him another term, FDC will be seen everywhere,” Kasozi notesd
Observers within the party are saying that the serious contention will be between Muntu and Amuriat. But it will not compare to what was witnessed between Nandala Mafabi and Muntu in 2012, a contest which almost split the party.
There has been a shifting of loyalties inside the country’s largest opposition grouping this time around.
With Mafabi out of the picture, Ssemujju, a longstanding backer of Dr Kizza Besigye during whose time as party leader the secretary general’s star had risen, is now standing behind the outgoing party leader.
On the other hand, Rubaga division mayor Joyce Ssebugwawo, who was Muntu deputy campaign manager in 2912, is now backing Amuriat.
“He (Muntu) has done his part; let us give Amuriat a chance to take the party to another level,” she says.
Sources inside FDC say Dr Besigye is quietly behind Amuriat’s attempt to unseat Muntu. A legislator closer to Muntu told PML Daily that since last year, Besigye has been marketing Amuriat.
“At the funeral of Butambala district chairman Moses Kasule in June, he sent Amuriat to represent him. This did not go well with some FDC leaders in Buganda. He wants a weaker president, who will endorse his plans,” sources said.
As a founding father, and very popular figure amongst the rank and file, Dr Besigye continues to influence things inside FDC even though he holds no official position.