Kampala-Former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) president Kizza Besigye yesterday scoffed at individuals accusing him of going back on an alleged promise not to run for political office again.
Fresh from a three-week trip abroad, Dr Besigye, who was nominated in absentia to contest in the September 2 FDC party presidential flag-bearer polls, said he had not become a candidate under pressure of anybody but on his own accord.
“Those accusations are definitely unfounded. I would like to challenge any person to present any evidence that I have ever said I would not contest in any election in Uganda. I have only said I won’t contest without electoral reforms, contest in an election organised and managed in every aspect by one of the candidates. That is an election we very clearly reject,” Dr Besigye said during a media briefing at his Katonga Road offices.
The three-time presidential candidate said there was no contradiction in his seeking for the FDC flagbearer.
“Our parties are preparing for elections, what is the contradiction of Besigye becoming a flag bearer? Where is the U-turn to say we are preparing for free and fair elections and that we are going to fight for reforms, and especially when some of our political leaders have not showed the required resoluteness of demanding those reforms?” Dr Besigye said, adding: “There have been voices among us saying we shall go for elections whether there are reforms or not. How do you prepare to go when we have a compact, we must prepare to fight first.”
He said his candidature was not in any way a U-turn but a struggle to end “warlordism” in Uganda.
“The entire adult life I have had has been in a struggle … My struggle as a person, which obviously coincides with our struggle as a party and as a people of Uganda, is about ending warlordism in our country, where power is controlled by a few people relying on guns,” Dr Besigye said.
Unless the warlords are toppled, Dr Besigye said, he was not about to retire from the political struggle. “Having spent my entire adult life doing that, I will not retire from the struggle until that is achieved. That is the heart of what I can never turn away from. Anybody who is looking for my about turn should look for that, my turn from warlordism.”
Back in the day
The former NRM National Political Commissar said what happened in 1986 when Mr Museveni took power, was not a fundamental change, as claimed by the President then, but a mere change of guard.
“Changing regimes is not a fundamental change as claimed by Mr Museveni in 1986. In fact, what happened in 1986 at the door steps of Parliament was the typical, categorical change of guard from one guard to another.”
During the nomination of FDC President, Maj Gen (rtd)Mugisha Muntu last week, Bugweri County MP Abdul Katuntu attacked Dr Besigye’s candidature, observing that the former FDC leader was leading a team which had failed and ought to be substituted.
In response, Dr Besigye said: “It is interesting; some of the people who say these things appear to be intelligent. Some are certainly people with some qualification. I shudder because this is where our country is really unfortunate. You have people who should be leading others in thought and dissemination of ideas but they choose to use their minds in awkward ways. If you agree that there has not been free and fair elections, how can you talk about defeat in an election that is not free and fair.”
He also responded to calls that he should not stand because he supports term limits.
“This is again said by people who you think have been to school, who cannot ask themselves what terms mean. How can contesting be a term? Can you imagine? Has our education gone that wrong to have people who think that by contesting, we have a term?” Dr Besigye said.
He said the reason he advocates term limits is to prevent the incumbent and those who hold responsibility from abusing power.
He explained that in the course of his two terms as FDC president, he had on both occasions served fewer years than accorded him by the party constitution.
Yesterday, Dr Besigye separately said he was talking to other leaders in The Democratic Alliance, the Opposition coalition, to further the cause for electoral reforms.