Some former ministers and MPs have announced they will support former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi’s presidential run in 2016.
Four former ministers and 11 former MPs are part of a group of 70 NRM losing candidates in the 2011 elections who are mobilising political support for Mbabazi. They announced their support on April 2 at a press conference held at Emerald hotel in Kampala.
The group calls itself the national NRM parliamentary flagbearers 2011-2016.
“We the NRM constituency chairmen, who are the flag bearers following the last NRM party primaries held [ahead of] the 2011 elections, have resolved to support Mbabazi for presidency in 2016,” their joint statement partly reads.
The former premier, who was dropped as NRM secretary general last December, is widely believed to be weighing a presidential run. The politicians have denounced NRM party chairman, Yoweri Museveni, who they accuse of abusing the party’s principles of internal democracy, good governance, rule of law and constitutionalism.
“Party structures, roles and responsibilities have been taken over by the NRM caucus which to-date has been making major policies and decisions affecting the party, contrary to the constitution of the NRM as well as that of Uganda,” the statement further reads.
About 15 members of the group attended Friday’s press conference, which was jointly addressed by the group’s national coordinator Ronald Tumwine (Busiro East) and John Bosco Sseguya Lubyayi (Mawokota South), the spokesperson.
The group’s national aisor, the former minister of state for Trade, Nelson Gaggawala Wambuzi, and former Bukomansimbi MP Hajji Idi Lubyayi Kisiki left prematurely.
“Being the flag bearers in our respective constituencies means that we are also the NRM chairpersons for those constituencies, but we have been sidelined by the party chairman and he is now hobnobbing with Independents,” Tumwine said.
The other group’s members include former ministers Aggrey Awori (ICT), Jovino Akaki Ayumu (state for Wildlife) and Simon Ejua (state for Works).
Others are former NRM deputy treasurer Katongole Singh (MP Lubaga North), Mario Obiga Kania (MP Terego), a former director at the NRM secretariat, Sembabule chief administrative officer, Anthony Yiga (Kalungu West) and former Soroti LC-V chairman Capt John Emily Otekat, who represented Serere county in the 8th Parliament.
NOT ONLY BULL
The group’s entire membership sits on NRM’s national executive committee (NEC), the second top-most decision-making body. They claim they formed part of the minority voices both during the NEC meeting at State House Entebbe, and at Mandela National stadium, Namboole during the delegates’ conference last year, but their concerns were ignored.
The amendments last year, Tumwine said, were made in the interest of Museveni who they accused of suffocating the party structures because he feels “he is the only bull in the kraal.”
“We now want a leader who will promise to promote constitutionalism and internal democracy,” Tumwine said.
“Mbabazi is an elder in the party, with all qualities required of a president,” he added.
Lubyayi claimed they tried in vain to have their concerns addressed internally through the NRM structures but the president was not willing to listen.
“We brought our concerns to the attention of the president in December last year but he seems to be adamant but we can’t simply look on as our [NRM] constitution is being abused,” he said.
They also said they are opposed to the proposed removal of the presidential age limit from the constitution.
“That proposal [to remove age limit] is surprising, who have they consulted? Such an amendment will plunge the country into chaos,” Lubyayi said.
The group was formed immediately after the 2011 elections and has been meeting monthly at Bativa hotel near Wandegeya. During one of the group’s meetings in 2012, they agreed to seek an audience with the president.
A week to last year’s December NRM special delegates’ conference, Museveni agreed to meet them shortly after they met Mbabazi at his Kololo residence.
Museveni, according to Tumwine, agreed to act on their grievances within two weeks.
“The national chairman has instead referred us to the new secretary general [Justine Kasule Lumumba] and new treasurer [Rosemary Namayanja] but up to now, we have failed to have any meaningful interaction with them,” Tumwine said.
“They [secretariat officials] have instead regretted having been duped into taking on new positions at the NRM secretariat where they say, they lack facilities as well as logistics to support their work,” Tumwine added.
Four months after the Museveni meeting, the group formally resolved to openly campaign for Mbabazi. Thursday’s press conference was the group’s 27th meeting but the resolution to back Mbabazi was carried two weeks ago.
“We had to consult widely because our members come from across the country some of them did not attend the meeting therefore, we couldn’t announce it before getting their voices on the matter,” Tumwine told The Observer.
FREE TO GO
Interviewed on Friday, Namayanja confirmed the group met Museveni and gave him a memorandum of their grievances.
“Their grievances can be handled by the chairman [Museveni], and not all decisions he takes can be implemented. It depends on the capacities available,” Namayanja said on Friday.
She said if the group is unhappy with NRM, they are free to go.
“We can’t force somebody to remain in, it is their personal decision,” Namayanja said.
“They participated in the primaries. They were facilitated and lost out of bad luck,” she added. “If it’s their choice, we can’t force them to keep in.”
Source : The Observer