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Road to 2016. NRM man taking on Museveni in court over age says the former prime minister will launch his presidential bid after the Electoral Commission has announced the 2016 election time-table
Former prime minister Amama Mbabazi is waiting for the Electoral Commission to announce its campaign timetable for 2016 general election before he declares his position on his presidential candidature.
This was revealed to Saturday Monitor by his supporter, who recently filed a case challenging the outcome of the Namboole delegates conference that saw Mr Mbabazi dropped as NRM secretary general.
Mr Benjamin Alipanga, who last week petitioned the Constitutional Court to block President Museveni from seeking another term on account of age, said it would be illegal and inappropriate for the former prime minister to announce his presidential bid before the Electoral Commission (EC) opens the campaigns officially.
“I know he is a principled and law-abiding citizen. Why would he announce now even before the Electoral Commission releases its timetable? Why would he announce before the official time as stipulated in the law? Nomination time has not even started yet. He says the right time will come. He is waiting for the Electoral Commission to set the ball in motion,” said Mr Alipanga.
The EC spokesman, Mr Jotham Taremwa, said the electoral body is likely to open the window for nomination of presidential candidates later this year.
“We are looking at October. Under our tentative programme, we shall start nominations in October but if somebody says I intend to stand, I don’t think there is a problem with that. It is only campaigning before the official time that is illegal,” Mr Taremwa said.
Mr Alipanga said he is in close contact with Mr Mbabazi and had met him several times, including shortly before our interview on Thursday. He denied being Mbabazi’s proxy in the two petitions, challenging Museveni’s eligibility for re-election in 2016 over age and another contesting the appointment of the new party leaders of the NRM Secretariat.
However, Mr Alipanga admitted he supports Mr Mbabazi for the presidency. He also said in private, Mr Mbabazi seems to be warming up to the idea of the presidency although he remains guarded on when he will announce his bid.
“He has not told me but I am also urging him to stand and save the country from a crisis because I believe he can do well much as he has not said he is contesting. He told me he is thinking about it,” Mr Alipanga said.
The confessed supporter and admirer of Mr Mbabazi also said he has not received any threats to his life following his hardline stance on the events in the NRM but claimed that some people calling themselves State House officials had offered him money to drop his petitions against President Museveni and the NRM party. He declined to mention who or how much money the said people were offering him.
However, presidential press secretary Tamale Mirundi dismissed Mr Alipanga’s claims as a pack of lies.
“That is stupidity. State House does not give money to such people. Let him name names. That man is looking for attention because he knows he is flogging a dead horse,” Mr Mirundi charged.
Mr Mbabazi was dropped as prime minister in September last year and as NRM secretary general in December. The sacking has been widely interpreted as a move by Mr Museveni, his hitherto political ally for 40 years, to diminish his clout and defuse his presidential ambitions. Mr Mbabazi has publicly said he will not stand against President Museveni but he has not ruled himself out of the presidency race either.
On Thursday, a group of youth under the umbrella of “NRM Poor Youth” visited the former prime minister at his Kololo residence in Kampala and urged him to stand for president in 2016, handing him a “certificate of endorsement”. Mr Mbabazi told the youth that he would declare his position at an appropriate time, telling them that it was important to “arrest the issues affecting the youth and the country”.
Appearing on the Capital Gang talk show recently, President Museveni evaded a question by panellist and Kyadondo County MP Ibrahim Semujju Nganda on whether he will contest again in 2016. The President labelled the debate on his candidature as diversionary and unnecessary.
He argued that he is, instead, currently preoccupied with his wealth creation programme. The NRM chairman wondered why Ugandans are anxious about his [Museveni’s] candidature even before the EC rolls out the election schedule for 2016. The NRM Caucus has, however, already endorsed him as the party’s sole candidate.
Three-time presidential candidate and former Forum for Democratic Change president, Dr Kizza Besigye, has sent mixed signals on his participation in 2016 elections but said he has lost faith in the current electoral process as a tool for political change.
Australian-based Ugandan cardiologist, Dr Aggrey Kiyingi, and retired army officer, Maj Gen Benon Biraro, have publically announced their intentions to contest for the presidency.