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Sunday, October 2, 2022

BUSONGORA BY-ELECTION: NUP-FDC political coalition, a rough ride on the back of a smiling tiger

Opposition parties have lost all recently held by-elections in Kayunga, Omoro, and Soroti Districts that has brought distrust among their supporters regarding strategies to getting rid of National Resistance Movement (NRM) party dominance.

Following this, a section of opposition supporters in Busongora South have asked their respective opposition political parties to allow their different candidates contest for the Member of Parliament in the hotly contested By-election.

The request follows news that the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party is tactfully down playing the National Unity Platform (NUP) candidate, Mr. Jackson Mbaju to withdraw from the race, a thing that NUP diehards in the Constituency say they can’t accept since FDC has failed them in several cases.

The opposition political actors especially NUP and a section of FDC members who are loyal to Dr. Besigye have come up with what they called the Joint Opposition front.

This followed after their different attempts to use violent means to push their political interest failed to yield any success.

In this joint agreement, opposition political parties have promised to support each other, especially in areas where each party has got special interests.

On 7th July 2022, NUP announced how they had no plans of fielding a candidate in the Soroti East constituency by-election but instead they promised to team up with FDC and support its candidate.

However, their candidate didn’t benefit from their last-minute pitch and was defeated despite claims to have been poisoned for sympathy votes. It was evidently seen that NUP supported FDC because they had no convincing support in Soroti. 

Due to the landslide defeat in Soroti, on 1st August 2022 Bobi Wine teamed up with Besigye and held a joint opposition press conference at Hotel African. Without a clear stand of who Besigye was representing, at the same event, the two together with their loyalists announced a joint opposition front and pledged their commitment to work together, especially in the ongoing by-elections. A section of FDC supporters and NUP supporters later were seen on National TV grappling with the fact that Besigye and Kyagulanyi are working as individual partners and not on behalf of the parties.

Let us remind ourselves that this is not the first time the opposition tried to unite under one umbrella but all in vain due to unclear individual interests coined in the coalitions. In 1996, the Inter-Party Forces Coalition-IPFC, the 2011 Inter Party Coalition-IPC, and The Democratic Alliance-TDA formed ahead of the 2016 general election. All these are coalitions formed over the years for the same purpose but failed.

It should be noted that the FDC party President Patrick Oboi Amuriat, has since 2020 towards the general elections dismissed suggestions by NUP to work together.

“We would not make an alliance with people power, the pressure group that was not legally recognized, with no structures, even when it changed under NUP, it is still in courts of law, whose fate is not known, the reason we in FDC can’t be part of them,” Mr. Amuriat said while addressing party leaders in Rwenzori Sub-region. 

From this background, different political commentators have questioned the working relationship between NUP and FDC. With some sources within the two political parties suggesting that the Alliance is an arrangement between Besigye and Bobi Wine to push their political interests and show superiority over other opposition stakeholders by making arrangements without consulting their parties. 

Kicks of a dying horse

As we talk, the new Alliance has already suffered a natural death in its infancy stage. After miserably failing in Soroti, NUP fronted a 19 year old university student to contest against the FDC and NRM candidates in the Bukimbiri constituency by-elections. The pressure on the fronted young man was too much that he defected and joined the NRM which enjoys majority support in the area.  

Similarly, in the ongoing Busongora South by-election, NUP also have fielded a candidate to run against the NRM and FDC candidates. This has since raised different concerns with people questioning whether this is still political alliance or its just few individuals project. Political analysts have pointed out that Besigye is using Kyagulanyi for a political comeback from the activism trend he had joined. The contention is that, he is paving way to run again in 2026 and to realize the dream, he has to ride on other political parties since he is not in very good terms with FDC.

Information from the FDC NEC meetings at Najjanankubi highlighted complaints against two individuals who were using the party identity without consulting or approval from the structures. Besigye and Erias Lukwago have been red marked by the party as people who don’t care about what goes on in the party but care about personal interests. They are respectively accused of disrespect for the Party President and acting without consulting in the name of the party, as well as not attending party meetings.

The confusion gives opposition nothing but a rough ride on the back of a smiling NRM.

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