Kampala- Prominent opposition politician Kizza Besigye has announced that he will not stand for the presidency in 2016 and will instead use other means “to dismantle the dictatorship”.
In an exclusive interview in Kampala yesterday, Dr Besigye, who served as the founding leader of the Forum for Democratic Change, the largest opposition party, said contesting for the presidency under the current Electoral Commission would be a “ritual without any political significance”.
Dr Besigye has thrice contested the presidency (2001, 2006 and 2011) against incumbent Yoweri Museveni and lost. He challenged his first two defeats in the Supreme Court but his petition was dismissed.
“First of all, I, as a person, will not offer myself in an election organised by the dictatorship. Secondly, I will rally everybody and everything that I can to dismantle the dictatorship,” Dr Besigye said.
He added that under the current circumstances where the Electoral Commission and the Judiciary are controlled by the state, the opposition has no capacity to win the general elections in 2016. The Constitution gives President Museveni powers to appoint EC commissioners and judges.
Asked if his position was shared with the FDC, Dr Besigye said it was an individual decision and the party would at an appropriate time take a decision on the matter.
“Contest is always as an individual, I am no longer in any leadership position in the party. It’s the role of the party president and other structures to take a decision on how they what to engage in 2016,” Dr Besigye, who handed over to Gen Mugisha Muntu, added.
FDC Secretary General Alice Alaso told this newspaper yesterday that Dr Besigye had not informed the party of his decision but added that they will still front a candidate come 2016.
“The position of boycotting the 2016 elections is not yet on your table and we think Besigye will rally behind any person that we chose as a flag bearer,” she said.
The ruling NRM yesterday termed the announcement “a stunt” meant to divert Ugandans’ minds.
“This is not news to us. Besigye has failed to get new ground in Uganda and he is spending most of his time here in Kampala protesting instead of looking for support in other parts of the country. Even if he contests or not, it’s not an issue to us,” said Presidency Minister Frank Tumwebaze.
The Opposition wants electoral reforms, including the reconstitution of the EC, which the NRM has dismissed. If Dr Besigye makes good his threat to avoid the ballot in 2016, it could mark the end of what had become a pattern of a two-horse presidential race with President Museveni, many times ending in acrimony.