Why Defiant Besigye Lost Presidential Poll

Shocking details have emerged of why Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) presidential candidate, Kizza Besigye lost the presidential poll held last Thursday.

Besigye during his arrest on Monday
Besigye during his arrest on Monday

Besigye, who was arrested yesterday at his home in Kasangati over threats to lead a procession to the Electoral Commission head offices, had vowed to win Thursday’s presidential poll even though he maintained that the process was not free and fair.

“The election cannot be free or fair, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be won,” Besigye told the media Wednesday, saying he was still aiming for an “outright win”, not a second round run-off in which the opposition would unify.

He added, “We believe we can win the unfree and unfair election, that’s what we are trying to do,”

However, despite his defiance campaign, Besigye was defeated in the presidential race by now president elect and incumbent Yoweri Museveni.

According to the final tally issued by Kiggundu, Museveni garnered 5,617, 503 votes representing 60.75 percent. Dr Kizza Besigye, the FDC presidential candidate scored 3,270,290 votes representing 35.37 percent. Former prime minister Amama Mbabazi, who stood as an Independent after falling out with President Museveni, polled 132, 574 votes representing 1.43 percent.

Since 2011, Kizza Besigye, the founder of the most powerful opposition party in Uganda FDC has attempted to unseat the incumbent, this time he arouse  huge support with tremendous 58.3% increment in the number of Ugandans who cast their vote in his favour  from 2,064,965 to 3,270,290 implying that he has 1200000 new voters and his opponent had his support base grow by a mere 3.5% from 5,428,369 in 2011 to 5,617,503 votes.


Besigye who in 2013 announced he would never contest again for president, staged a determined comeback campaign of defiance amid queries raised by a section of the public including government officials, his own party members, how he is not different from Museveni whom he accuses of overstaying in power and rejecting to hand over peacefully.

It started so well for Besigye during the campaigns as the son of Kifefe pulled massive crowds on his rallies proving critics who anticipated that Besigye had had a slumped popularity after announcing his 4th time attempt to dislodge the government through the ballot.

His ‘defiance not compliance’ message was well publicised by all media platforms and it went down well with much of the public putting the state apparatus into panic as he was perceived to be advocating for an uprising in the country, prompting high ranking government officials to issue warnings that he risked a veto from the race. Besigye could also boast that his campaign was characterised by a unique signal of the populace donating their ‘hard earned’ money to fund him as he combed the whole country seeking their mandate to lead the citizens of this country.


“Besigye’s campaign of defiance goes a long way in scaring away the aged voters in the country who could have opted for him since he represents change. However, defiance to them speaks volumes of violence to them,” Charles Rwomushana, a political and security analyst said while appearing on Current Affair show on 103.4juicefm, four days prior to the polls.

He added that it is this very message that makes the elderly stick to Museveni who has always maintained the narrative of peace and stability.

Painfully, the age group (youth) Besigye tried to radicalize do not vote, most are noise makers who just get excited by thronging his rallies to hear his rhetoric but bore no voting particulars. How else could he lose in areas like Mubende, Ibanda, Mbabara districts where he had a sea of people at his rallies during campaigns.

While responding to the question of the elderly representing a small portion of the population and that Besigye would do away with them, Rwomushana said they represent sizeable number of people who really participate in the poll unlike the young who ‘make noise and do nothing.’

It was because of this very campaign that Besigye clashed with the party’s president, Mugisha Muntu during the FDC presidential debate. The two were vying for the position of FDC presidential flag bearer, a post that was eventually taken by the man from Rukungiri.

The defiance campaign emanated from another by Besigye in which he called for electoral reforms before the country holds elections.

During the debate, Muntu said, “My view is that as FDC and the other colleagues in TDA, we have got to sit down and re-assess because it is clear right now that Parliament rejected our reform proposals. Unfortunately, on the path of civil disobedience, we were not that well organised.

He added, “You can see that Parliament did what it just did and there was no effective way of exerting pressure [on Parliament]. In the next months, we must choose which path to take. My view is that if we use both civil disobedience and diplomacy, we will send different signals to the population.

To drive home his point home, Muntu cautioned Besigye saying, “When you are a leader, never give a threat that you cannot execute.”

Former presidential spokesperson, Tamale Mirundi, told us before the polls that Besigye’s defiance campaign would cost him the election because it had been deflated by government yet he maintained his stance on pursuing it.

“Once he tried to do it, government swung into action to decimate it even before it could take off. Besigye is looking for excuses because he has failed to convince his supporters that after losing three times, he is not good enough,” Mirundi intimated to us.

Besigye has for a long time said he would never participate in Uganda’s election as a candidate as a long the Electoral Commission is appointed by President Museveni. In Besigye’s view, the EC is not only compromised, but “incompetent, inefficient and corrupt,” and is merely a tool to keep President Museveni in power.

Greed, Selfishness, Temper: The FDC flag bearer always cultivated a blunt-speaking, tough-acting persona and failed to integrate it with humility which is necessary to be president. Frowned face all time and unnecessary anger is a character which fails to woo women votes! His personal vendetta with Museveni has raised dark clouds around him and it portrays him engaging in an election because Museveni not the good governance he wishes to give Ugandans. And it is at this point that many ask, “what if Museveni is no more will Besigye also actively retire from politics?” since he has always attributed Uganda’s governance, domestic and regional challenges to Museveni.

Social Media Craze/Propaganda, Poor Vote Protection: On election eve, social media was shut down citing security threats. Much of elite who are pro- change are social media enthusiasts whose role is to rant, attack the state, mobilise and cause panic. Cracking down social media cut off communication especially on how Besigye had appealed to his supporters to take pictures of declaration results, ballot papers so that it can be used as evidence that they voted him.

The blockage of social media is believed to have been the final nail in the Besigye ‘political coffin’ as it helped government demobilize the Power10 (P10) group that has been branded a militia. According to sources, FDC was set to wire an estimated shs500m to P10 activists to carry out their operations, some government believed would be detrimental to national security.

Our sources have intimated to us that ‘P10 activists’ were not spread across the country and only dominated urban centres making it hard for Besigye to reach out to those in rural areas that provide the backbone of Museveni’s support.

According to FDC, the P10 is an organization of 10 People cascading from village to village to ensure a close knit of so called pro – change people who were to liaise and mobilize themselves to vote and to ensure that their votes were properly protected, tallied and accurately communicated on real-time basis, and properly registered in an accountable manner. It is a mechanism to ensure accountability in the handling of people’s votes so that it is not stolen, squandered or misrepresented as has always been the case in previous elections. However, government maintained that it is a militia hell bent on creating chaos before and after the polls.

Before the election, it appeared Besigye was partly resigned to the fact that his campaign may not give an outright victory.

“If rigged, as we expect, we will continue the struggle for democracy,” Besigye said yesterday adding, “The struggle will simply continue.”


Weeks before the election, beleaguered UPDF General, David Sejusa was arrested and later slapped with various charges that included insubordination, away without official leave and illegal participation in political activities contrary to the army code of conduct.

Prior to his arrest, Sejusa, who at the start of the campaigns was named a special campaigner for Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) Col Kizza Besigye, was reportedly associating himself with people who were alleged to be planning violence in the country in the run up and aftermath of the presidential elections on 18th.

Knowledgeable sources have revealed to us that there was growing suspicion in security circles that Sejusa was getting close to members of the Power 10 (P10). Sources intimated to us that his arrest could have demobilized the operations of the group on voting day. As former head of intelligence services, Sejusa was reportedly supposed to coordinate the P10 activities, something government could not allow to happen hence his arrest.

(By Nicholas Mwesigwa & Alex Masereka)