Parliament- Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi signed-on late Tuesday night to support President Museveni as the National Resistance Movement Organisation’s sole candidate in the 2016 elections.
Sources at the ongoing ruling party retreat in Kyankwanzi suggested that the Prime Minister may have had no choice considering the manner in which the President’s backers carried out their plan to lock down commitment for their man.
The Daily Monitor understands that Mr Mbabazi is No.202 on a list of 208 MPs who signed onto the Evelyn Anite motion in which Mr Museveni’s sole candidature at the coming NRM national delegates conference was proposed. Although the NRM parliamentary caucus is not a formally-recognised party organ and doesn’t have the mandate to anoint a flag-bearer -- a decision reserved for the delegates conference -- its members attend the conference in which they comprise a significant number.
Caucus spokesperson Anite, who together with a number of young first-term ruling party MPs, have emerged as the faces of the sole-candidate agenda, said in a statement yesterday that “the Prime Minister did not only sign to second the motion, but also spoke passionately in support.”
Ms Anite quoted Mr Mbabazi as saying: “I have worked with President Museveni for a long time, he knows me very well and i also know him. He was a good leader in the liberation war, and he is also a very good leader in peace and stability, and it’s very rare to have such a leader.”
He reportedly added: “And as I have always said and I wish to repeat; Africa’s problem is leadership. When, therefore, in Africa, you have a good leader, you don’t let go easily. Rumours that have been going around about me are not true.
I obviously support President Museveni and the motion”. Speaking to reports about jostling over the succession question, the PM is said to have also cautioned that: “There are many forces outside who would want to see division in NRM. They have realised that NRM is solid and not easy to defeat and have for a while resolved to disorganise it from within. Members should, therefore, take caution. I support the motion and it will be forwarded to the appropriate party organs to choose a presidential flag-bearer”.
Separately, sources said yesterday that a happy President Museveni advised NRM leaders to always be diligent in completing assignments handed to them and then allow their own performance to stand out for others to appreciate. He reportedly said the Anite motion was meant to return sanity to the party ahead of the 2016 polls.
“It becomes automatic for any leader to be rewarded by the people with promotion if he/she serves diligently,” the President reportedly said.
Mr Museveni repeated a line he has increasingly voiced in public, reportedly discouraging NRM leaders from “wasting time” scheming for personal ambition.
At the start of the retreat, the President, who also chairs the NRM, said he has information that some members were scheming to stand against him.
The NRM leader, according to Ms Anite, welcomed the resolution in the context of party cohesion and appreciated the young people for launching what he called “another new phase of the resistance.”
Ms Anite’s motion was unanimously passed in a session chaired by party historical and Health minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda on Tuesday evening. The caucus agreed to forward their resolutions to the Central Executive Committee of the party for further consideration. It was agreed that the document forms the highlight of the coming delegates conference where Mr Museveni’s bid for a fifth consecutive elective term in 2016 will be confirmed.
Weighing in on this matter, Nicholas Opiyo, the Secretary, Uganda Law Society, however, said the actions of the MPs has nothing to do with a perceived real challenge from Mr Mbabazi but is, in fact, an attempt by the MPs to buy favours.
“This is both for endorsement for NRM flagship in the next election [in the parliamentary constituencies] and appointment to cabinet”, he said, adding that President Museveni is, as he has said, still around.
Mr Opiyo is of the view that the Premier and Speaker Rebecca Kadaga’s much-talked-about leadership challenges are but a mere smokescreen. “They are made up as a strategy to mask for Museveni’s continuity in power,” he said.