Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, has merged his People Power pressure group with National Unity Platform (NUP) in the first political merger ahead of the 2021 General Election.
According to Electoral Commission records, the NUP was formed in 2004 as National Unity, Reconciliation and Development Party (NURP) under Mr Moses Nkonge Kibalama but it only changed last year to NUP.
NUP officials, who did not want to be quoted for personal reasons, told Daily Monitor that the leaders of People Power approached them a few months ago requesting for a merger.
In the negotiations, NUP party was represented by Mr Kibalama, their president, Mr Paul Simbwa, the secretary general, Ms Lillian Odinga, the publicity secretary, and Mr Edward Seremba.
The People Power side was led by Mr Kyagulanyi, the pressure group’s executive secretary, Mr David Lewis Rubongoya, Mr Joel Ssenyonyi, the spokesperson, Mr Benjamin Katana, the leader of the legal team, and Ms Flavia Kalule, the leader of the women wing.
Daily Monitor understands that as negotiations progressed, the NUP leadership agreed to allow the People Power team take over some of the top most positions of the party and use the umbrella symbol in the General Election as a joint team of lawyers continue to discuss the terms of partnership, including proposed party constitutional amendments.
Bobi Wine told Daily Monitor in an interview that they had chosen NUP because their message and objectives rhymed well with People Power ideals.
Bobi Wine’s camp yesterday said their leader and team zeroed down to NUP after several attempts on three other political parties they did not disclose.
The plan was to boost their bargaining power in the 11th Parliament and buttress Mr Kyagulanyi’ s presidential ambitions in the 2021 polls.
Mr Rubongoya told Daily Monitor that the other fear was about the fact that they were going into the polls with a pressure group that did not have a symbol that members can use to avoid confusion.
“This meant that everyone had to use their own symbol. This would affect our mission in terms of being disunited and we also wanted to observe Section 8 of the Political parties and Organisations Act 2005,” Mr Rubongoya said.
Section 8 of the Political Party and Organisations Act indicates that; “A political party or organisation shall not submit to the EC for the purpose of registration under Section 7, any identifying symbol, slogan, colour, or name or initials of any registered political party or organisations or republic of Uganda.”
Mr Kibalama said he had to surrender his position as president whose term was due to expire in November.
“I am happy to work with Mr Kyagulanyi because he has been tested at all fronts and he is the talk of town. As we speak now, his team will take full charge of the political entity as we engage the lawyers on the final finer details,” he said.
It is not yet clear whether there was any monetary value attached to the power brokering process after which Mr Kyagulanyi was named president of the party on July 14 when they met in Wakiso District for what they called a delegates conference. According to sources, Bobi Wine will have to change his leadership to accommodate members of the two political entities.
The secretariat will be represented by at least members from both political groups as part of the deal agreed upon.
Bobi Wine yesterday admitted that they had been struggling to answer the question of having a uniting symbol after EC rejected their People Power name in 2008 that it had already been gazetted by another individual who was taking care of elderly people.
“When we announced the call for expression of interest, more than 10,000 people responded so that they would run under our platform but every day, we have been receiving countless calls about one thing- what is the symbol?” Mr Kyagulanyi said.
“Expectedly, all our people would want to have a uniform symbol for liberation. They know that if they go into this election as independents, the regime will ensure that the symbol which I have is not available to any other of our candidates. Today, we gather here for yet another important step in our liberation struggle,” he said.
The two political entities launched a symbol which will be used in the coming election as the umbrella which had initially belonged to the NUP party.
Fate of outsiders in People Power
Explaining what this merger meant to the members who had left their political parties to seek the People Power card, Mr Rubongoya said they will be free to stay in the activist wing of People Power.
However, it remains unclear whether members of other political parties would carry NUP flag or People Power flag.
But Mr Rubongoya attempted to explain the conundrum.
“We are having People Power as the activist wing and NUP as the political wing. We have seen some of these things work in other countries and that is why we have applied it here. We wanted to be sure that all candidates that are joining have some uniting factor which is the symbol registered with EC but we remain People Power.”
He added: “In the coming days, we shall embark on the process of formalising the People Power Alliance. The People Power Alliance shall be composed of different political formations which we have been working with and those that will be willing to join us. Formal engagements with many of these brothers and sisters have already been ongoing and they will continue,” Mr Rubongoya added.
Reactions from other political parties
Mr Richard Todwong, NRM deputy secretary.
“As NRM, we don’t care who the People Power merges with, we are ready to win any election. I think it was also wrong for that political party to join People Power which is also struggling to get a home. They should have established themselves.”
Asuman Basalirwa, Jeema president.
“We welcome the new party of MP Kyagulanyi and his team. We support it and we shall be working together on all fronts because this has always been our call. Now Bobi Wine has where to belong other than the pressure group.”
Kenneth Kakande, DP spokesperson.
“The move is towards the right direction since most of us have been talking. We want to agree on how we can work together. What People Power should do at the end of it all is to bring together all other political actors to make sure that there is an amicable position that is agreed upon.”
Alice Alaso, National Coordinator Alliance for National Transformation (ANT).
“This move might affect individual members from other political parties who cannot leave their original political parties. That means they will have a tough choice to make. But People Power has a lot of explanation on where this is heading. The talks between us and People Power will not be affected because the quest for change still exists.”
Wasswa Biriggwa, FDC chairman.
“We congratulate them for forming a political party. It is better than what they have been calling a movement so they will have a constitution that guides their activities. The way we welcomed ANT is the same way I would like to say that MP Kyagulanyi now comes to the table and the struggle must continue. We are going to work together. The members who had left other political parties to join People Power will now have a choice to make on whether to join or not.”