The Forum for Democratic Change should not have held a Presidential election after former leader Dr. Kiiza Besigye stepped down, a top party official has said.
Chapaa Karuhanga, the FDC envoy to the inter-party cooperation (IPC), says the party should have had one of Dr Besigye’s deputies at the time to take over as acting president until 2014 when Besigye’s term was set to end.
In 2012 Dr Kiiza Besigye requested to cut short his tenure to enable the party find another leader and allow such a leader time to find his or her footing ahead of the 2016 general elections.
He then handed over power to Major General Mugisha Muntu after the November 2012 elections that some party members disputed. General Muntu beat current leader of opposition in Parliament Nandala Mafabi to the seat, but until todate, Mafabi’s camp within the party is opposed to Muntu’s reign.
Karuhanga says the leaders did not clearly explain to voters how long the new party President would occupy the seat and majority voted with knowledge that Muntu was just completing Dr Besigye’s remaining two years a position that has left the party tense.
However, FDC party secretary general Alice Alaso says completing Dr Besigye’s term would have been unconstitutional since Article 27 of the party constitution clearly states that the term of office of the President shall be five years. Alaso says the decision to hold the Presidential elections was reached at by the party’s National Executive Committee and processed by the National Council.
Currently, however, there is no explicit provision in the party constitution determining what happens when a Party President resigns.
Last week the party National Chairman Sam Njuba advised in a strongly-worded letter that in order to ensure FDC stays united, they should consider amending the areas recommended by the truth and reconciliation committee set up by the party and then prepare for grassroot elections. Njuba also advised party members to consider electing the Party President at the time the flag bearer is elected.
The FDC party constitution allows Dr. Besigye if he so wishes to offer himself for the race provided he is given the flag by the National Delegates Conference. Unlike in other parties such as National Resistance Movement where the party president is automatically a flag bearer, this is not provided for in the FDC constitution, leaving the race open.
According to Alaso, the party has now mandated its legal committee to identify some gaps in the constitution to look at the recommendations by the truth and reconciliation committee that was chaired by lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuzi and see how they match with the constitutional provisions before advising the party on a need for an amendment.
Alaso adds that they are collecting ideas on the election of the President, office of the secretary general and strengthening the electoral commission which will then be validated.
The Serere Woman MP says strengthening of the party electoral commission was particularly emphasised because the party primaries in 2012 left a lot of discontent among those who contested and there was need to review the management of the party primaries in addition to the presidential elections.
Chapaa Karuhanga is confident that once the constitution is reviewed FDC will come out much stronger considering that Nandala can now be seen attending meetings called by party President Major General Muntu. The former presidential candidate adds that Njuba’s letter to the party is aimed at reining in on some members to conform and not continue with petty squabbles.
FDC was formed in 2005 after a merger of Reform Agenda, Parliamentary Advocacy Forum (PAFO) and the National Democratic Forum. Karuhanga was the leader of National Democratic Forum. Because of his political credentials having challenged President Museveni in the 2001 elections, Besigye was easily elected FDC president, a position to which he was re-elected in 2009.