Wednesday January 6 2010

Infighting worries top NRM officials

National Resistance Movement deputy secretary

National Resistance Movement deputy secretary general Ms Dorothy Hyuha addressing journalists at the party's headquarters at Kyadondo Plot 10 on Tuesday. Photo by Stephen Wandera  

By Gerald Bareebe & Anna-Maria Penu


The National Resistance Movement could pay a heavy price in the 2011 general elections because of persistent internal disputes, a senior party official has said.
Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters in Nakasero, Kampala yesterday, Mr Ofwono Opondo, the NRM deputy spokesperson, said the party should act swiftly to solve disagreements among its members so as to consolidate its popular support.

Own enemies
“We are sure that there is going to be a major political shift on the ground in our favour,” Mr Opondo said. “But our major weakness is internal rivalry. We are likely to have many disputes especially as we head towards 2011, and the challenge is how we shall address them before our delegates’ conference.”

Mr Opondo explained that the most serious disputes which the party has faced for the last 10 years are caused by serious weaknesses within NRM’s internal electoral system.

According to Mr Opondo, most members are urging the party to abandon its electoral college system in favour of a universal adult suffrage system.
Mr Opondo’s comments come at a time when many NRM officials are privately sounding the alarm bells over growing acrimony within the ruling party, most of it driven by ego clashes.

The factions
According to sources inside the party, Trade Minister Kahinda Otafiire is widely said to head one of the camps, with the second being headed by Vice President Gilbert Bukenya, and both camps said to be hostile to that headed by Security Minister Amama Mbabazi.

Mr Opondo expressed worries that although the NRM had gained much support in the North and Teso sub-regions, it could be headed for defeat in Bunyoro, where its leaders are engulfed in wrangles. Mr Opondo also dismissed the threat posed by the coalition of the four major opposition parties. He blamed the European Union for imposing a coalition on Uganda’s opposition, arguing that these parties were too immature to form a formidable government.

He said: “We might say that the IPC is very disorganised and weak but beneath we take them seriously. The coalition has been imposed on these parties by the Danish, the British and the whole of European Union. They tried in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, and it was fairly successful. They are now telling parties that if you don’t unite, we shall not give you money but they forget that in Uganda they are dealing with different kind of politics.”

EU Ambassador Vincent de Visscher could not be reached for comment because he was reportedly out of the country. Mr Opondo said the opposition would most likely be cajoled by the EU to front Dr Besigye because he is the only candidate donors have zeroed on as a potent threat to President Museveni.