Besigye backs Birigwa’s conference amid FDC troubles

Opposition leader Col Dr Kizza Besigye during an interview at Monitor Publications Limited office in Kampala yesterday. PHOTO | SYLIVIA KATUSHABE.

What you need to know:

  • If decided, interim leaders would potentially end whatever remains of the outgoing party president and his secretary general’s already shaky hold onto their positions

As the troubles inside the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) rumble on, founding party leader, retired Colonel Dr Kizza Besigye yesterday said an interim leadership team should be put in place to oversee key upcoming internal elections.

If decided, interim leaders would potentially end whatever remains of the outgoing party president and his secretary general’s already shaky hold onto their positions.

Dr Besigye made the call in Fort Portal City where he met FDC grassroots leaders drawn from across the Rwenzori Sub-region, and addressed himself to one of two competing national delegates conferences, each planned to take place within the next few weeks.

He appeared to endorse the extraordinary national delegates meeting called by Mr Wasswa Birigwa, the party chairman, slated for September 19. His preference was apparent as the opposition stalwart never once referred to a similar gathering called for October 6 by the party’s embattled elections chief, Mr Boniface Toterebuka Bwamwenda.

Mr Bawmenda’s alternative meeting has been endorsed by a faction led by FDC president, Mr Patrick Oboi Amuriat and secretary general Nathan Nandala Mafabi, two individuals whose continued leadership of FDC is the subject of current infighting.

Their opponents in the opposed faction accuse them of betraying FDC for selfish financial reasons, while allegedly hobnobbing with President Museveni, who is also the  chairman of National Resistance Movement (NRM).

In Fort Portal, the retired colonel appealed to those who will attend Mr Biriggwa’s meeting to nullify the outcome of contested grassroots elections organised last month by Mr Bamwenda, citing concerns that they were not conducted in accordance with party rules. Under FDC’s constitution, leaders chosen at the grassroots form the national delegates conference, which then picks the national leadership team.

“The National Delegates Conference is our best option to address the direction in which some FDC members are taking us. This conference serves as the supreme policy-making body of our party, and its decisions are binding,” Dr Besigye said.

“Therefore, the top priority for the conference should be to nullify these divisive elections,” he added.

Additionally, he proposed an extension of the timeline for replacing FDC’s national leaders whose terms were originally set to end in 2020 but were extended due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

While advocating for the appointment of an interim team to guide FDC over the next six months, he said the September 19 conference should pick persons who are trusted and accepted by all members to organise credible elections to choose FDC’s national leaders.

“After achieving unity within the party, we can collectively strategise on how to pursue our party objectives in the current political landscape,” he stated.

In the event that the September 19 National Delegates’ Conference fails to take place, Dr Besigye alluded to a contingency plan whose details he chose not to divulge.

Dr Besigye asked his audience to be prepared for  outcome of the September 19 meeting, including whether or not they align with one of the factions.