Amuriat’s stalking horse candidacy

Sunday October 18 2020
By Philip Matogo

The Opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) declared Mr Patrick Oboi Amuriat, its president, as the party flag bearer for the 2021 presidential election. 
After Dr Kizza Besigye presumably ended his Life Candidacy against President Museveni’s presumptive Life Presidency, FDC needed a new champion. One who was ready to fulfill the party’s moral covenant with its supporters to oust the NRM. 
Also, one who would realise that this contest is not shirts versus skins; it’s the big leagues. 
Apparently, Mr Amuriat has got what it takes. Because it takes what he’s got. 
He defeated then FDC president Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu in 2017 in a hotly contested FDC presidential race at Namboole stadium. Amuriat garnered 641 votes against Muntu’s 463, a difference of 178 votes.
Gen Muntu had been party president since November 2012 when he defeated Nandala Mafabi, the then Leader of the Opposition in parliament. Today, Muntu is also a presidential candidate. 
Amuriat was also elected Member of Parliament for Kumi district, a seat he held from 2001 to 2016. So, yes: he has paid his dues and it is time to cash in. 
That said, taking on President Museveni is a whole different ball game. Where Amuriat could swing while Dr Besigye landed the blows to knock out Gen Muntu, this time he will need a country-wide slingshot to kill the Goliath of a Museveni candidacy. 
Then there’s the National Unity Party (NUP) of Robert Kyagulanyi, which is looking to replace NRM at parliamentary and Local Government levels as biggest party in the land. Kyagulanyi’s candidacy will likely outflank Mr Amuriat’s bid on left, since NUP seems to be more radical than FDC. 
Furthermore, Amuriat may have to overcome Amuriat. In the sense that he doesn’t seem to have the confidence to be anything more than second fiddle to Besigye.
“I will lead this front, while our competent, dependable and ever ready president, Dr Kizza Besigye leads the plan B, which we shall combine,” Mr Amuriat said.
Which is telling since, we thought, Mr Amuriat was the “ever ready president”. 
His statement reveals him as a stalking horse. Which is a candidate used to conceal another person’s candidacy. It is essentially a horse that will not run and behind which a hunter stalks game. 
In this case, Dr Besigye is the hunter and Mr Amuriat is simply a sleight of hand. 
He knows he can’t possibly beat President Museveni, but he is hoping that the president will fall in the manner Gen Muntu fell when this Stalking Horse strategy was used in 2017. 
If this is Besigye’s Plan B, then a Plan C (Plan Cancel) might have to be activated to forestall the resurrection of Besigye’s Life Candidacy.  
For Besigye has infiltrated and dominated FDC, divided, isolated and destroyed his opponents to build an unassailable power base within the party. 
This has led and will lead to more defections to other parties, thereby reducing FDC to its origins as a mutant Parliamentary Advocacy Forum (PAFO). Which, with its reduced parliamentarians, will give it presence in Parliament but not on the national stage; like the Democratic Party. 
Of course, one might argue that such a return to innocence may serve as the impetus FDC needs for its renewal. However, when FDC was born, the political landscape was a cradleland to its possibilities in view of it being the dominant force in the Opposition. Today, the field of Opposition politics is an acronymic offering of FDC, NUP and ANT. Sadly, the latter two parties will continue to weaken FDC by their existence and not their strength.

Mr Matogo is the managing editor Fasihi Magazine.