The Forum for Democratic Change concludes its search for a presidential flag bearer in a week’s time and must be applauded for showing that opponents may strongly disagree but still remain united in defending the people’s right to choose between them.
On occasion, things have got testy, which is inevitable in politics.
The schism between styles and philosophies that mark out party president Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu and Col Dr Kizza Besigye cannot have been more pronounced.
Some say this is when the party president’s idealist and so-called gentleman wing has been weighed against the activists’ nostalgia for the firebrand, rabble-rousing politics embodied by Dr Besigye.
It is three years since Maj Gen Muntu took the reins following a very acrimonious process to replace founding leader, Dr Besigye.
Many feared a rapturing that the so-called radicals would decamp in protest at Mr Muntu’s new doctrine of non-confrontation which they looked down upon as regime appeasement.
They stayed. But the party has weathered bickering and internecine strife of such proportions since then — which may turn out to have been a good, character-building experience after all.
The country’s largest Opposition party seems to have come to terms with the disorientation which the change in approaches imposed.
It seems more convinced about its stated historical mission to liberate Uganda from the grip of the irredeemably corrupt, increasingly lawless and predatory political cabal that continues to rampage through this country.
As they approach this day, it is crucial that there be no faltering of steps in the democratic path FDC has set itself upon. The right to free exchange of opinions and choice must be defended to the hilt. The principle of one man, one vote must be upheld.
Similarly, the minority view should not be completely drowned out in the anticipated cacophony that will greet the winning side a reaching-out to the vanquished when it’s done is always useful.
If the FDC stands for rule of law, accountable government and respect for human rights as has been trumpeted by its ideologues, next Wednesday’s delegates conference will test its adherence to these high-minded values.
There is a possibility that the party president could, in effect, be supplanted as a de facto party leader. How they emerge from this, and how that affects the delicate balance between the opposing sides will impact their chances in next year’s election.
The delegates are also well advised to go into Wednesday’s conference with an eye on the fact that the Opposition still has to deal with the combustible business of picking a joint presidential candidate under the auspices of an already very fragile coalition known to them as The Democratic Alliance.