The Electoral Commission (EC) recently rolled out a new road map which many of you in the Opposition challenged as being impractical. What is your plan now?
What is evident is that whereas we came up with a road map, EC launched a new road map which in quick observation is stringent and is not going to allow political parties to carry out internal processes.
For instance, the EC obliges us to come up with candidates and they give deadlines for identifying flag bearers in one month. We also know that there are legal deadlines that are given to verify academic documents and we know that the presidential and parliamentary elections should not go beyond a certain date. Our difficulty is how we tie up our internal processes which would require a bit of time for us to go to the grassroots to identify leaders and organise the delegates’ conference.
Because we lost three months already, we have decided to stay our election, which was supposed to happen around this month. We chose the National Executive Committee (NEC) to defer the election and, therefore, maintain the status quo so that whatever functions the leaders should have conducted are able to be conducted. But that cannot happen with the Electoral Commission road map.
So we see ourselves in a difficult position, getting the delegates’ conference out of our way and just concentrating on identifying flag bearers.
How are you going to be able to do this?
It is very hard for me to say how we shall be able to do this, but what we have agreed on is that we shall have to bypass this process and come up with a leader who will stand as our flag bearer.
The Electoral Commission is causing us a lot of trouble in all that they have launched. In our view, this is a departure from what we expected; a free and fair election and we are going to interrogate whether this is something that will deliver a free and fair election.
In the face of all these challenges and the solutions you are trying to come up with, are you considering boycotting this election?
We have four options we are weighing at the moment in regard to this new road map. One is to table it in Parliament. Two is that we could challenge it in court, although we don’t have enough faith in the court process, but we could still make a point by going there. Third, we could review our participation in the election. Yes, we could refuse to take part in the election and fourth is that we could call for civic action.
What are the particular areas of contentions in this road map?
EC is stifling political parties. We need at least three months to carry out all the activities that we have. We understand the restrictions, but what is the problem with postponing the election?
The digital elections is another area of contention. This is going to be very hard because more than 90 per cent of the radio stations are owned by NRM fanatics and supporters. This is going to be very hard for us the Opposition.
We are also very unhappy that the consultation was done with Mr Museveni and the EC has admitted it, they are not shy about it. They even say this knowing that President Museveni has been chosen by his party to take part in the election next year…
But Mr Museveni is still the President of the country who needs to be consulted on things that happens…
Far from it, President Museveni is an interested party and EC is supposed to be independent. Their operations should not be guided by anyone and we feel so sad that he wants to influence everything that the Commission does. Actually, that road map is a product of the consultation between Mr Museveni and EC.
They say they went to Mr Museveni to discuss finances, but I think in trying to argue out their case, the EC has exposed themselves. Money is appropriated in Parliament and not with the President. Going to Mr Museveni appears like they went to ask him whether the election is good for him or not.
A few weeks ago, I asked whether you were fine with the EC postponing the elections as suggested by one of the political leaders. In your own words, you said: “That will be handing President Museveni his desire because it benefits him.”
Are you now turning back on your own words?
That is true, I said it but at the time the EC had not launched this road map. We even didn’t know what the EC would come up with in regard to this. We didn’t even know whether they wanted to come up with a constitutional amendment of Article 77. If a postponement of an election has to happen, then there has to be a declaration of a state of emergency which Mr Museveni has rejected. If there is no state of emergency, or state of war, they can’t declare a state of emergency, which scares the President because he will not be part of it.
Will you be offering yourself as a presidential flag bearer for your party?
It is going to be a selection process other than an election. That means individuals will not have a say in this whole process. A committee is going to be set up to scrutinise a person who could be fit to represent our party. We shall generate consensus and as it turns out if we have to go into this election, we shall choose the person who is well known in this country.
Former party president Kizza Besigye is by far the most known FDC member in this country. Is he the one we should expect as flag bearer?
Yes, he is the most known. But we also have Mr Nandala Mafabi (secretary general) and myself. So I don’t want to pre-empt this discussion right now.
Recently, you went and met with the People Power group in a unity to fight for people’s rights. Is there a possibility of these two entities coming together in a coalition for one Opposition candidate?
Let me inform the readers that what happened last week [last month] was not about sharing a common ground on election matters. We wanted to come together through our (FDC) relationship with the People’s Government and other change-seeking forces to empower the population on the injustices that are happening right now in a campaign dubbed “No, nedda.”
That said, we have to come together and discuss and see how we can come up with one candidate, but then we see that we don’t have that time again. This has happened before in the Inter-Party Coalition in 2011 and The Democratic Alliance in 2015. I don’t think we have that time. We go into this election with our own candidate and if any discussion happens, it will take place as we have our own candidates.
We also have to be very sure of the candidates that we present. What if they pull out at the last minute like it happened in Kaabong District? There has to be serious discussions with the independent candidates and we have to be under control of that candidate. If there is going to be any kind of discussion, FDC wants security.
MP Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, has already announced his intentions to stand on an independent ticket. Are you insinuating that you don’t have security over his aspiration and you can’t ally with him?
It is very early to say that. What if Bobi Wine joins FDC tomorrow? For us we maintain an open door policy, he may change his mind and say I think I want a home. He is welcome to join FDC any time he wants and then he will be weighed against the other candidates.
After 15 years of FDC failing to bring change to the country, how should Ugandans be assured of change this time round?
I tell you that we have never gone into any election expecting to be announced winners. In our jargon, we say people do not have power and the ballot is a piece of paper, which should be backed by the power of the people. Therefore, anyone who goes into the election expecting to be announced the winner when Mr Museveni owns the military, EC, Bank of Uganda and controls the population with deceitful means is mad.
That is pessimistic of FDC…
Yes, we won the 2016 general election and we have evidence. Dr Besigye is in court for declaring himself president but this case has not taken off because they know that the next thing they will ask for is the evidence which we have. And Dr Besigye went and said he announced himself president.