Lukwago, Amuriat to face-off for FDC party top job

Mr Erias Lukwago (L), Mr Patrick Oboi Amuriat (r)

What you need to know:

Picking of nomination forms for election to senior leadership positions is expected to begin this morning at the FDC’s national headquarters in Najjanankumbi, Kampala and will be open up to Tuesday, September 12.

Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago is likely to challenge Patrick Oboi Amuriat in upcoming and decisive Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) internal elections.

If confirmed today, his entry in the race could result in a bruising campaign between factions at the already strife-torn opposition political party and whoever wins could possibly determine the very destiny of FDC as a political organisation.

Pundits believe the capital city’s lord mayor would be open to an opposition-wide alliance with the 2026 national elections within touching distance, yet the incumbent’s loyalties remain a subject of intense debate.

Picking of nomination forms for election to senior leadership positions is expected to begin this morning at the FDC’s national headquarters in Najjanankumbi, Kampala and will be open up to Tuesday, September 12.

Nominated candidates will then canvass for support ahead of the National Delegates Conferences scheduled for October 6, where senior party leaders are to be chosen.

FDC sources have intimated that before internal conflict broke out, Mr Lukwago was the preferred choice for party president, given his popularity and considerable experience.

Alternatively, Mr Amuriat, who has been the incumbent these past six years, was reportedly pre-designated to assume the office of the party’s national chairman.

However, the current hugely divisive dispute has disrupted plans for what was a bespoken transition. Both Lukwago and Amuriat could now potentially lead their competing factions in a bid for the top job, reliable sources said yesterday.

One source remarked: “Lukwago has expressed his intention to contest for the party presidency. Amuriat has also expressed interest for the same position. It remains uncertain how this will be handled given the ongoing conflicts within the party.”

The revelation opens a new and intriguing chapter just a few weeks after allegations of improper financial transactions became public knowledge.

Party spokesperson Ibrahim Ssemujju and other senior colleagues provided the catalyst for the bitter dispute when, in July, they publicly accused Mr Amuriat and outgoing party secretary general, Mr Nathan Nandala Mafabi, of betraying FDC.

Their accusation plunged the party into turmoil, with the Najjanankumbi team left to desperately defend itself against claims that they allegedly received large sums of money from State House in the lead-up to the 2021 general elections.

Simultaneously, other party members attribute the unrest to the existence of two power centres; one at Najjanankumbi, where the party head offices are located, and the other at Katonga Road, where the influential founding president, Col (rtd) Kizza Besigye, runs a parallel political outfit.

Since the conflicts began last month, party notables, including Lukwago, who is the FDC’s deputy president for Buganda region, have refrained from visiting Najjanankumbi.  It remains a very fluid situation at the FDC, especially after a competing national delegates’ conference has been called by Mr Wasswa Birigwa, the outgoing national chairman, for September 19. That date is only days before another similar meeting called by the FDC electoral commission on October 6.

When contacted yesterday, Mr Lukwago, who is attending the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, said: “comment reserved for now”.

Mr Amuriat, on the other hand, said he would be consulting his team.

“We are looking forward to the elections. However, I have not yet taken a decision on whether I will contest but I will communicate when we get there,” Mr Amuriat said.

He said anyone is free to contest, including individuals allied to the rival faction, provided they go through vetting by the party’s electoral commission.

Mr Boniface Bamwenda Toterebuka, the man in-charge at the FDC electoral commission, was unavailable for comment by press time yesterday.


According to sources, Mr Ssemujju, who is Kira Municipality MP, is likely take on Mr Mafabi in what could be another equally bitterly fought battle for the secretary general position.

Others include veteran Jack Sabiiti, who may run against Mr Birigwa for national chair, while Buhweju County MP Francis Mwijukye is reportedly toying with the idea of challenging Geoffrey Ekanya (Tororo North MP) for treasurer general.

Last evening Mr Biriggwa was noncommittal, saying: “Let us first go through what is going on in the party. We shall then see where we belong.”

Mr Ekanya confirmed he will be seeking a fresh mandate handling the coffers.

“We have been able to establish a very good financial management system. We want to maintain this. We have been able to account for all the money we used in the elections and we do not have any shortfall,” he said.

At the other end, Mr Mwijukye said although he is interested in the party, he would not participate.

“I am interested in the cancellation of these elections, rectifying the fights within the party, and organising the grassroots structure elections before going for the national elections. Right now, I cannot participate in these shoddy elections,” Mwijukye said.

Mr Ssemujju neither confirmed nor denied reports of his bid and simply said: “We have a delegates’ conference on September 19.”

Old-timer Jack Sabiiti said while he qualifies for all positions, except for treasurer general, he has not yet made up his mind.

“I have not yet made a decision but I am eligible for any other position,” Mr Sabiiti said.

Mr Mafabi also never answered calls, or repeated messages.

Kira Municipality MP Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda (centre) addresses a press conference at Fairway Hotel in Kampala on July 28. 


Mr Patrick Oboi Amuriat

He is an engineer and former Kumi County MP in the 9th Parliament. Born on March 17, 1963 in Kumi District, he attended Makerere University, where he graduated with Bachelor of Science in Engineering in 1991. He also acquired a Diploma in Education from the same university in 1986.

Previously, Mr Amuriat was campaign manager for FDC founding president, Dr Kizza Besigye, during the 2016 presidential elections.

He was flagbearer of FDC in the 2021 presidential elections and has been party president since 2017.

Mr Erias Lukwago

Born in 1970, he is a prominent opposition politician and lawyer by profession. He is also the Lord Mayor of Kampala Capital City, a position he has held since 2011.

He is FDC deputy president for Buganda Region. In 2005, he was elected as MP for Kampala Central on the Democratic Party ticket, before joining FDC in 2020.

In Parliament, he served on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, and on the Local Government Accounts Committee. He resigned his seat in 2011 and was elected Kampala Lord Mayor.

Mr Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda

He is the MP for Kira Municipality. A renowned political journalist by profession, he embarked on his journalism career as a reporter at the Daily Monitor where he worked until 2004.

In 2011, he successfully ran for the Kyaddondo County East seat on the FDC ticket. In 2016, Kira Municipality became a separate constituency, having been carved out of Kyaddondo East. Mr Ssemujju moved to the municipality and subsequently won elections here with a landslide. He is the FDC spokesperson and party whip in Parliament.

Mr Nathan Nandala Mafabi

Born in 1966, Mr Mafabi is the MP for Budadiri West. He started out as a tax assessor at the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), progressing to senior revenue officer and principal revenue officer by 1997. From 1998 to 2000, he was senior principal revenue officer and acting chief internal auditor at URA.

Transitioning to elective politics in 2001, he won the Budadiri West seat and was re-elected in 2011. He has held significant positions in Parliament, including chairing the powerful Public Accounts Committee, and served as the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament from 2011 to 2020.

Mr Wasswa Birigwa

He attended City High School in Kampala between 1966 and 1968, before joining Emerson College, Boston, Massachusetts in the USA where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communication.

He also holds a Master’s of Science Degree in Marketing/Public Relations from Boston University and a Master’s of Law and Diplomacy that was administered by the Tufts and Harvard universities, Medford/Cambridge, Massachusetts in USA. He was Uganda’s Ambassador-Extraordinary to the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia between 2002 and 2005.

Mr Jack Sabiiti

Born in 1947, he represented Rukiga County in the 7th and 9th parliaments and played a pivotal role in the Constituent Assembly, which wrote Uganda’s 1995 Constitution. As a founding member of the main Opposition party in Uganda, FDC, he was the first treasurer general. During the 9th Parliament, he chaired the committee on Public Service and Local Government and was a member of the Budget Committee. In the 7th Parliament, he served as the vice chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee and was also a member of the Committee on Presidential and Foreign Affairs.

Mr Francis Mwijukye

He represents Buhweju County in the 11th Parliament. A committed member of FDC, he contested many times before securing his first term in Parliament in 2017.

In 2019, he was elected parliamentary commissioner representing the FDC.

His political career took a significant turn in 2016 when he defeated the incumbent Ephraim Biraaro to secure a seat in Parliament.

Mr Mwijukye faced various challenges, including surviving a poisoning incident during his 2020 election campaign and a fatal accident more recently.

Mr Geoffrey Ekanya

Mr Ekanya is MP for Tororo North County and shadow minister for finance.

He was born in 1971 in Tororo Hospital and hails from a village called Asinge in Apokori Parish near the Uganda-Kenya border.

Mr Ekanya has been involved in Ugandan politics for a while, despite his relative youth, and has held several positions and responsibilities within the FDC.

He is current treasurer general of FDC.

Mr Simon Wanyera, a personal assistant of the Kampala Deputy Lord Mayor, Ms Doreen Nyanjura, is arrested at FDC headquarters in Najjanankumbi during the NEC meeting on July 28. PHOTO/ABUBAKER LUBOWA


The storm had been brewing quietly for months before the bitter conflict and leadership challenge inside the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) exploded on July 17 this year.

On that day, allegations about ‘dirty money’ funnelled from suspicious sources were raised by the party spokesperson, Mr Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda and other senior party colleagues during a so-called national consultative meeting held inside Sharing Hall at Nsambya in Kampala.

They named party president Mr Patrick Oboi Amuriat and the secretary general, Mr Nathan Nandala Mafabi.

In the intervening period, a national council meeting convened to receive a report of an ’elders committee’, which inquired into the scandal opened amid chaotic scenes and ended in a fiasco on July 28.

A mob assaulted journalists and party members thought to be opposed to the two leaders.

When the dust settled, Dr Frank Nabwiso, the chairman of the committee, found his report being trashed as a joke, and not being worth the paper it was written on. He had written to absolve Mafabi-Amuriat faction.

Before that, the party national chairman, Mr Waswa Birigwa, was stopped from briefing the press at Najjanankumbi, and had ultimately been held against his will inside the party headquarters by rowdy people linked to Mafabi-Amuriat faction.

Along the way, the founding party leader, Dr Kizza Besigye, re-inserted himself into the affair. He caused quite a stir when he narrated in more detail how Mr Mafabi brought some of the so-called dirty money to him for safe custody.

He also released serial numbers of the money, which he said a State House source had confirmed to him originated from that office.

Dr Besigye was then accused by Mr Amuriat of fanning the discord inside FDC by running a parallel office on Katonga Road in upscale Nakasero, Kampala.

An attempt by Mafabi-Amuriat faction to push on with grassroots elections countrywide over the month of August was met with resistance.

The general impression is that FDC’s regional offices declined to hold elections for leaders who would then form the delegates attending the scheduled national conference.

Mr Mafabi’s authority as secretary general has been challenged. Regional officials insist the internal contradictions must be resolved first.

The Mafabi-Amuriat axis hit back in Parliament where they attempted to relieve Mr Ssemujju of the party whip position.

That too fell through after Speaker Anita Among refused to accept the appointment of Mr Yusuf Nsibambi as a replacement.

Ms Among demanded proof that the new whip was chosen in line with FDC’s internal constitutional provisions. A stalemate ensued. Mr Ssemujju remains in place as FDC parliamentary whip.

The crisis deepened further after the announcement, last month, of two competing national delegates’ conferences; one called by Mr Birigwa and the other by the chairperson of the party electoral commission, Mr Boniface Bamwenda Toterebuka.

The agenda for the extraordinary conference called by Mr Birigwa involves receiving reports from the party chairman, president, secretary general, and treasurer general.

In contrast, Mr Bamwenda’s conference aims to elect the National Executive Committee leadership, including the party president, deputy presidents, and secretary general, among others.

Compiled from Daily Monitor archives.