After dilly-dallying and flip-flopping, former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi on September 11th at about 10:00pm finally signed The Democratic Alliance (TDA) protocol and was formally admitted into the wobbly coalition of opposition forces whose chief target is to end Museveni’s three decade rule by fronting and rallying behind a single candidate.
The signing followed a closed-door meeting that lasted an hour and a half, as the former prime minister ironed out his differences with TDA leaders.
A number of TDA officials including Bishop Zac Niringiye, TDA Secretariat Director, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) National Chairman Amb Wasswa Biriggwa, JEMA president and head TDA’s Campaign and Strategy Committee Asuman Basalirwa, had remained at office unwearied waiting for Mbabazi to turn up.
The nomination of aspirants for a joint candidate had started on August 25, and was set to close on September 5, but when Mbabazi visited the alliance’s headquarters in Naguru on September 3, and held his first meeting with the TDA Summit, he pleaded for more time to weigh his options.
As result, the coalition bowed and extended the deadline to September 10th.
On September 10th, the former Prime Minister was nowhere to be seen- he was in Jinja consulting and choking on teargas.
He finally turned up on Friday 11th but appended signature on the alliance protocol late night. To TDA, this was a great relief.
This meant that Besigye, seen as the alliance’s darling candidate would be facing a stiff competition.
His diehards were watching the process of wooing Mbabazi into the coalition with dismay.
They went to social media to express their disappointment.
“Bishop Zac Niringiye and Mr.Godber Tumushabe, we demand that you step out of TDA as soon as you can…What deal did u have in nominating someone at 10pm in the night?” Kahemba Babi, one of Besigye’s fanatics queried.
While Doreen Nyanjura Besigye, another Besigye supporter vowed to ignore the presidential elections if Mbabazi is elected TDA flag bearer.
However, when pressed by journalists on why the Alliance admitted Mbabazi at night Basalirwa said; “We can wait until midnight because the time is not fixed anywhere in our protocol or even guidelines.”
The disgruntled Besigye supporters decided to petition FDC demanding the party to withdraw from the Alliance. However, the party rejected their plea.
Makerere University History Prof. Mwambutsya Ndebesa says that the Alliance faces a blur future beset by the dilemma of decision making and consensus.
He argues that all parties involved must come to a consensus when it comes to decision making.
It means all members agree and or if someone is not in line with a decision, he or she doesn’t raise objections.
For instance, whereas Besigye “no reforms no elections,” Mbabazi may be willing to participate in without reforms. “What will happen in such a situation?” he poses.
Mwambutsya says the Alliance is not a legal entity recognised by the electoral commission and its candidate will have to register under his party.
On the issue bending rules to nominate Mbabazi, he says “there are no rigid rules in politics. They can be bent. No one should mind about rules.”
However, Moses Byamugisha, an FDC activist opines that the same rules which were meted on Lukwago, by denying him entry into the Alliance should have been applied to Mbabazi since he is still a member of NRM
“Lukwago’s Platform for Truth and Justice is not yet registered with TDA simply because they are still members of the Democratic Party. TDA said they should first denounce their DP membership and even handover their DP membership cards… This too should apply to Hon Amama Mbabazi, he insists he is still a proud member of NRM… He should publicly denounce NRM and even handover its membership card,” he argues
Field many Candidates
To mitigate quagmires, the party should front many candidates, a move which Uganda Radio Network reported that the alliance is weighing.
“Have one struggle and many fronts. You can have each candidate stand and coordinate but not undermining each other. Besigye and Mbaabzi have supporters who may not be willing to support another candidate. Selecting one candidate has more disadvantages than advantages,” Mwambutsya argues.
Unfortunately, now Forum for Democratic Change (FD) seems to be out of the alliance.
Yesterday, party forced party presidential flag bearer Kizza Besigye out of the alliance summit after learning that it had pointed at former prime minister as a favourable joint candidate.
Can the alliance survive without a brace from FDC, the leading opposition party?
TDA Protocol Article (xi): Special Provisions Regarding Selection of a Presidential Candidate and the Campaign Team of the Alliance
The Presidential Candidate of the Alliance shall be agreed to by the Summit by consensus.
The person agreed to be the Presidential Candidate of the Alliance shall, in consultation with the Summit, select a Campaign Team of the Alliance.
The National Candidates Committee shall present to the Summit for approval a detailed criterion for selecting a Presidential Candidate and the Campaign Team of the Alliance…