Kampala. The Opposition coalition will front both Dr Kizza Besigye and former prime minister Amama Mbabazi to challenge President Museveni in next year’s election, Sunday Monitor has learnt.
If former vice president Gilbert Bukenya insists on running, our sources indicate The Democratic Alliance (TDA), the Opposition coalition for 2016), could then have three candidates since Democratic Party (DP) president Norbert Mao is eyeing a parliamentary seat in his home district of Gulu.
One of Dr Besigye’s key confidants ruled out their candidate pulling out of the race for Mr Mbabazi.
“That is absolutely impossible; don’t even think about it. Both candidates will be in the race,” the confidant said.
Dr Besigye’s close confidant was also sure that “under the circumstances” Mr Mbabazi will not pull out of the race, either.
The source was going into a meeting to consult with Dr Besigye on the final position the three-time former presidential candidate would present to his fellow contestants for the TDA flag later yesterday.
The four candidates had a full-day meeting on Friday but failed to agree on who was more popular than others to carry the joint opposition flag, requesting for time to consult their supporters.
TDA could therefore not announce a flag bearer on Friday, meaning that the coalition missed the second deadline for naming a flag bearer. The first deadline was September 14.
The new date for the final announcement is Monday when the candidates are supposed to report back to the TDA summit for endorsement of the decision.
Our sources within TDA say the idea of having both Dr Besigye and Mr Mbabazi on the ballot was discussed and was taking root within TDA, even if some of the coalition’s members are still opposed to it.
However, fielding two candidates now seems the most likely option because both Mr Mbabazi and Mr Besigye have taken entrenched positions and, our sources say, none of them is likely to yield and rally behind the other.
The situation cannot be saved by a vote because the TDA protocol states that the joint candidate has to be arrived at by consensus, meaning that all the candidates have to agree before a binding decision is made.
After the announcement that wasn’t on Friday, Mr Mao, who spoke on behalf of his colleagues, cited the need for more time to build consensus.
“We have not concluded and we can only blame time. There is so much you can do in a particular moment,” he said.
Mr Mao said some issues that arose in the private meeting required that the aspirants consult their various bases and that the candidates had requested the TDA summit for more time which was granted up to Monday afternoon.
“We thank the summit for bearing with us. I wish to reiterate that the four of us are committed to this togetherness known us The Democratic Alliance,” Mr Mao said.
The issue of Mr Mbabazi’s declaration that he is still a member of the ruling NRM, which TDA plans to oust from power, was among the things Mr Mao said required further consultation.
“It is one of the issues which will be consulted on because we are developing a strategy of confronting the regime and naturally strategies cannot be discussed in press conferences,” Mr Mao said as Mr Mbabazi looked unmoved by the statement.
Mr Mbabazi’s late entry into the alliance has raised questions about the future of TDA while his continued allegiance to the ruling party has made observers to say that fielding him as the joint Opposition candidate would tantamount to a contest between two NRM groups.
Speaking at the same briefing, Dr Besigye accused the media of being “used and abused” to discredit the TDA process and him as an individual.
“How can one be a bad loser before he loses? That shows you the extent of confusion. There is a deliberate propaganda campaign that has been waged against this process as a whole, to discredit it, but also against me as a person,” Dr Besigye said.