Uganda: Besigye Defiance Can’t Dislodge Museveni – DP

A campaign of defiance touted and led by Dr Kizza Besigye, a former FDC presidential candidate, cannot dislodge President Museveni, the Democratic Party national chairman, Alhajji Mohamed Baswari Kezaala, has said.

Kezaala said in a recent interview at his home in Jinja town that President Museveni can only go if the opposition persuades him through dialogue and offers a firm assurance that he will be protected and respected after he is gone.

Besigye ran a campaign of defiance. And in the aftermath of the February 18 presidential election, whose result he rejected, Besigye the runner-up in that election vowed to continue with his defiance campaign to "delegitimize the NRM regime until it succumbs to the will of the people."

But Kezaala said Besigye should accept the fact that he lost and instead focus his energies on building FDC's structures. He said Besigye lost largely due to dishonesty, disunity and lack of a common agenda within the opposition.

"He [Besigye] should know that even his own house (FDC) needs thorough cleaning. It is full of moles and hypocrites," Kezaala said, adding that before trumpeting defiance, the opposition must be organized if they want to take power from Museveni.

He also urged Besigye to learn to respect his opposition colleagues and know that he needs them too. Kezaala said many opposition officials including some in FDC were dismayed by the unpleasant manner in which Besigye lambasted members of the Inter-Party Organization for Dialogue (IPOD) who a fortnight ago met President Museveni and urged him, among other things, to release the colonel who was then in Luzira prison for alleged treason.

Speaking in Luzira prison days after the IPOD meeting, an angry Besigye warned opposition leaders against pleading his case before President Museveni. He said no one should speak on his behalf. The IPOD delegation to the meeting was led by DP Secretary General Mathias Nsubuga Birekeraawo.

Kezaala however, who was part of the delegation, said Besigye should know that the IPOD meeting was not the first time opposition members had demanded for his release.

"We thought he was a genuine friend. We have been holding press conferences pushing government to release him," he said.

"We have been on radio talk shows; we have pushed political messages, all in the spirit of helping him."

Kezaala said the only person Besigye should blame for the Entebbe meeting and the plea for his release is his FDC secretary general, Nathan Nandala-Mafabi.

Mafabi, who initially chaired an IPOD workshop in Jinja at which the document presented to Museveni was drafted, pulled out of the State House meeting at the last minute.

"The memorandum of understanding presented to the president had been perused by Nandala who said his party [FDC] was okay with its components," he said.

"In fact it was him [Mafabi] who was supposed to head the delegation to State House but at the last hour he said he couldn't make it because he was going to stand surety for his party secretary for mobilization, Ingrid [Turinawe] who was appearing in court," he said.

Interviewed for a response at the weekend, Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, the opposition chief whip and FDC spokesman, said, "He [Kezaala is not worth responding to. That is all I can say."

Former Buikwe South MP, Dr Lulume Bayiga, in an earlier interview told this writer that the opposition in Uganda 'has been eroded' by its own mistakes. Speaking at the High court premises in Jinja, Lulume said NRM's strength is drawn from the confusion within the opposition.

"There is opposition within the opposition; no one listens to the other and this is why this very weak man [Museveni] has clung onto power for this long," he said.

"We have other people in the opposition but why has Besigye not given us a chance to try a new candidate? Why should we bring the same face every presidential election? We also have a problem."

UPC stalwart Robert Kanusu accused FDC of losing focus. Kanusu, who lost the Jinja LC 5 election, warned that the opposition should learn to accommodate one another and work in unison if they want to defeat the ruling party.

Source: The Observer.