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Political parties 2013: Factions, infighting, and intrigue

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Dr Kizza Besigye holds an NRM T-shirt handed to him by one of the NRM defectors at a rally in Rukungiri.

Dr Kizza Besigye holds an NRM T-shirt handed to him by one of the NRM defectors at a rally in Rukungiri. Earlier this year, hundreds of people surrendered NRM T-shirts and membership cards as a sign of crossing from NRM to the opposition FDC. PHOTO BY PEREZ RUMANZI. 

By Eriasa Mukiibi Sserunjogi & Paul Tajuba

Posted  Wednesday, December 25  2013 at  02:00

In Summary

2013 has been highlighted with what one could term as drama as parties fought internally and externally.

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Kampala

In the first week of December, Forum for Democratic Change president, retired Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu, was involved in a public show of unity with his predecessor, Dr Kizza Besigye.
At a gathering in Rukungiri, Dr Besigye’s birth place, the party’s supremos rallied its faithful and provided a glimpse of what many of its supporters spent 2013 wishing for.
A number of people threw in a heap what they said were membership cards and T-shirts of the ruling NRM party, which they said they had abandoned and joined the FDC.

President Museveni and NRM officials had in the earlier months claimed to have eaten away at the heart of FDC in Dr Besigye’s birth place as the leading opposition party threatened to degenerate into a feuding wreck over its founding leader’s succession.

In the second half of the year, Gen Muntu held a series of town hall-style meetings in western Uganda in an attempt to consolidate his hold onto the party. But his efforts were almost always overshadowed by internal wrangles stemming from his election.

Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Nathan Nandala-Mafabi was not satisfied with the manner of his loss to Gen Muntu towards the close of 2012, leading to a quarrel like nothing the eight-year old party had ever seen.

Team Nandala petitioned party chairman Sam Njuba (Mr Njuba passed away on December 13) over the election, who in turn set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission chaired by Kampala lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuzi to look into the matter.

Upholding Gen Muntu’s election aside, Mr Rwakafuzi’s commission made a recommendation which rattled feathers within Gen Muntu’s camp as much as it gave hope to Mr Mafabi’s side – to hold a fresh presidential election in 2014 so that Gen Muntu would only complete the two years by which Dr Besigye cut short his second and last term.

The recommendation set the two camps on a fresh collision path with some members from either side speaking out, sometimes violently, against a possibility of changing their positions.
The party’s leadership insisted on having no repeat election in 2014, with secretary general Alice Alaso and two deputy presidents – Mr Amanya Mushega (western Uganda) and Prof Ogenga Latigo (northern Uganda) going public about it even before the party pronounced itself on the matter.

On the other hand, Maj Rubaramira Ruranga, who had led Mr Mafabi’s campaign, led the group that pushed for a re-election in 2014, even threatening to leave the party should the leadership hold its ground. The decision on the matter was delayed as much as possible, but after several postponements and setting up of another committee, members were told that Gen Muntu would serve a full five-year term.

Maj Ruranga, perhaps in fulfilment of his threat to quit the party should Gen Muntu have a full term, returned to the ruling party, but claimed that he had gone back to help President Museveni re-energise the fight against HIV/Aids.

The year, therefore, closed as it opened, with Gen Muntu looking to start all over again and kick the party into gear as the race to 2016 shapes up. At the Rukungiri rally, Dr Besigye talked about plans for a reconciliation meeting probably as a pointer that he could in future take a more active role in the party.

Ruling party pains

The ruling National Resistance Movement has a lot of pending business as the year closes. It has also shown growing signs of divisions between the ‘progressives’ who want to re-focus it as a party with the people’s interests at heart, and those who prefer first allegiance to Mr Museveni. The stage was, thus, set for much squabbling, intrigue and back-stabbing between the factions mostly expressed in the NRM parliamentary caucus.

There is a suit challenging the ouster from the party of four dissenting MPs and the party has a counter court petition to have the same MPs thrown out of Parliament due to having been sacked by the party.

The four MPs – Mr Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga), Mr Muhammad Nsereko (Kampala Central), Mr Barnabas Tinkasimire (Buyaga) and Mr Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa East) – were accused of going against the party’s positions in Parliament, campaigning against the party’s candidates, among other charges.

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