FDC Katonga plans to form new party

Dr Kizza Besigye, the founding leader of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party, addresses a National Council meeting of the FDC Katonga faction at his offices on Katonga Road on February 21, 2024. PHOTO/SYLIVIA KATUSHABE

What you need to know:

  • Dr Kizza Besigye’s group is back to the drawing board ahead of 2026 elections. 

A meeting of Opposition minds on the character of a post-Museveni political era is what Uganda needs now, a senior politician said yesterday. 
Speaking a day after Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister, Mr Norbert Mao, had put the President on notice about the need to start preparing for a peaceful political transition, Dr Kizza Besigye proposed that getting Mr Museveni out of office is only a starting point. 

The founding leader of the presently factionalised Opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party said a coalition bringing together Opposition parties must sit to discuss how a post-Museveni Uganda should look like.
A four-time presidential candidate, Dr Beisgye told a partisan audience in Kampala that many people say they want to liberate the country, but it seems everyone has a different idea of the new country they want.

“We talk about wanting change; we want peace. [But] what is that? That will happen, and we say yes, this is the change we wanted,” Dr Besigye said.
He was speaking during a National Council meeting of the FDC Katonga faction at his offices on Katonga Road where members mulled over the possibility of launching a completely political party – effectively abandoning anything to do with the group holding out at FDC’s Najjanankumbi offices.

With less than 24 months left to the 2026 general election, and as assorted political groups position themselves for what some pundits say could be a turning point in Uganda’s political journey, the retired colonel turned to history in his delivery.

“I can tell you I was standing here on the doorsteps of Parliament on January 26, 1986; just there behind Mr Museveni as he spoke after being sworn in as the new president, and he talked about the Uganda we had fought for, and he said what is happening here is not a mere change of guards, this is a fundamental change...”

Dr Besigye participated in the five-year Bush War against former President Apollo Milton Obote (RIP) between 1981 and 1985 which brought Mr Museveni to power. He, however, fell out with the ruling establishment after accusing it in a hard-hitting November 1999 dossier of betraying the ideals for which the guerrilla war was fought.
Titled “An Insider’s View of How the NRM Lost the Broad Base”, his document accused the NRM under Mr Museveni of becoming a sectarian kleptocracy and a one-man dictatorship. 

He said that in the bushes of Luweero, they were fighting for change, “but considering what happened thereafter, it seemed we had different ideas of what change we wanted”. 
As such, the colonel said it is important for all Opposition leaders and Ugandans to come together to clarify their minds and talk about the change they need.

“Some people will be on the streets drumming if Museveni leaves office and they will be right. I will be happy too, but will that departure mean we have arrived? Not necessarily, getting out is one step,” he said.
Dr Besigye elaborated that just like people celebrated after the governments of Dr Apollo Milton Obote and Field Marshal Idi Amin’s were overthrown, shortly thereafter problems began. He warned the same thing can happen again if the people seeking change are not organised.

His statements come when the party he once led is in turmoil, split between two factions, one that remained at Najjanankumbi party headquarters, and the other loyal to him squatting at his Katonga offices.

Decision to form new party
Yesterday’s National Council meeting of the splinter group laid down six proposals on the way forward for FDC. Its interim president, Mr Erias Lukwago (also Kampala Lord Mayor) presented a report in which he revealed that their National Executive Committee (NEC), suggested different ideas for consideration. Among them is the outright forming of a new political party.
The opinion of NEC, he said, was that since members still have the same vision and are still committed to the struggle to remove President Museveni from power, it would be a good idea to rebrand and move on.
Those who supported the idea argued that the election season is running close and people need a political party to belong to.

Mr Ivan Kiyuba, the chairman in Kaliro District, said some colleagues are worried about which platform they will stand on when election time comes. Mr Kiyuba talked about the dilemma they face -- Najjanankumbi will not back any of them, and yet the Katonga outfit is not a registered party.
The other suggestions were to continue with the fight to rescue the party, evict the group led by Mr Patrick Amuriat Oboi and Mr Nathan Nandala Mafabi and regain control of their party headquarters through pursuing an ongoing court petition.

A distant option of reconciliation was also canvassed, but only if Mr Amuriat, Secretary General Nandala Mafabi and Treasury Geoffrey Ekanya leave office, a choice many agreed was highly unlikely.
Alternatively, a social movement where party members will belong or for members to join an already existing political party as a group was discussed.

“Forming a new party takes a lot of time and resources but with strong structures, we can merge with one of the weak political parties,” a member said.
Though the national council adopted all six suggestions, it agreed to leave the final decision to a planned National Delegates conference which was due on March 19. The conference was, however, deferred to an unnamed date two months further on.

Mr Lukwago said since the National Delegates conference is the highest decision-making body, it needs enough time to consult members.
“We have to take tough decisions, but one thing is that we can’t rush decision-taking, we have to toss all the parts of the coin; the debate has just started, it has to go down to the districts. Members we have in the Diaspora have to be on board, generating a consensus is not easy,” Mr Lukwago said.

Ms Florence Lalam, who represents Northern region women league, agreed on the need for a broad consensus.
“Invest more in the grassroots structures and most especially in the women because the direction of this country is mostly decided by women,” Ms Lalam said.