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Daily Monitor | A peek into the coming Museveni – Mbabazi fight By Timothy Kalyegira

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Posted April 20, 2015 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Inside Politics ~ 3,988 views

     

Mbabazaaa

According to reliable sources, sometime within the next two weeks, Mbabazi is expected to formally announce his bid for the chairmanship of the ruling National Resistance Movement party, writes Timothy Kalyegira

As for the Opposition parties, for the next few months they will go through their election roadmaps, update their party registers and start seeking prospective candidates for the presidency and parliamentary seats. But the Opposition, like most of the country, will be spectators as the drama between Museveni and Mbabazi unfolds. There are unconfirmed rumours that Mbabazi might be discreetly seeking to make contact with certain Opposition parties, including the main one, the FDC.

Of one thing we can be sure, regardless of the outcome of the 2016 election: the NRM as a party will never be the same again. It will survive but an internal debate about the party after Museveni will gain momentum and some of it will be in public.

Uganda’s Stability in troubled region

As Kenya comes increasingly under the real threat of terrorism and medium-term instability and the eastern African region in general still under much uncertainty, the advantage Museveni presents to foreign powers is the tried and tested stability in Uganda. Social services, infrastructure and other responsibilities of government might be in a shambles, but in the broader strategic sense, a relatively stable country is still an asset in a region marked by armed conflict.

What is alarming the Museveni camp, one source recently suggested, was the fact that Washington in particular is starting to think seriously about Mbabazi as a potential successor to Museveni. It is not clear if the United States is weighing the possibility of Mbabazi as an immediate successor in 2016, or an eventual successor after 2021.

Saleh offered Mbabazi the prospect to become President Museveni’s running mate in the 2016 campaign. According to Obore’s sources, Mbabazi said it would not be politically smart to have the President and vice president come from the same western region. Saleh then proposed that Mbabazi be named Chief Justice, to which Mbabazi pointed out that in 2014 he had been subjected to so much public humiliation that even if he were to become Chief Justice, he would lack the prestige and dignity to earn the public’s respect.

Of course what Mbabazi was doing was what Museveni had done to the Tito Okello military junta during the Nairobi peace talks in late 1985 – play for time by bringing up conditions he knew the other side could not accept but without seeming to appear unreasonable.

Communication break down

The fact that the President had to turn to his trusted brother and to Mbabazi’s trusted, long-time friend Dr Rugunda suggested, for a start, that direct communication between Museveni and Mbabazi had either broken down or did not appear to be making much headway.

Secondly, it suggested that the Museveni camp was running desperate. Museveni’s usual method is to threaten to “crush” those who challenge him, not to bend over backward and negotiate with them.

That he even had to negotiate with Mbabazi suggested a third factor at play: this was that the Museveni camp had encountered a strength in the Mbabazi camp that was more formidable than had been anticipated.

In the latest round of negotiations this month of April, according to a source, the Museveni camp, growing ever more desperate, has offered Mbabazi the vacant position of First Deputy Prime Minister, which historically belonged to the late Eriya Kategaya.

Desperation within the Museveni camp, because they could not realistically expect a man who had been prime minister only as recently as October 2014 to accept to become a First Deputy Prime Minister.

On March 12, Chris Obore also reported that an intelligence task force, headed by presidential adviser David Mafabi, has been sent to urgently survey eastern Uganda. Apparently, Mbabazi appears to enjoy substantial support in the eastern districts of Butaleja, Bukedea, Mbale, Busia, Sironko and others in the area.

Other sources say Mbabazi supporters are, in the meantime, still being arrested as happened in early 2014 after the NRM retreat at Kyankwanzi. So what is going on within the Museveni camp is three-quarters carrot and one quarter stick in its dealings with the Mbabazi camp.

Considering that President Museveni has only recently stripped Mbabazi of his two most important offices, why should the two camps be in negotiation? Why can’t the President move on and prepare to battle the main Opposition parties like the FDC, UPC and DP?

It is because, as this writer stated in the Sunday Monitor of February 15, that the 2016 general election is not going to be one between the NRM and the Opposition, but between two factions of the NRM, one supporting Museveni and the other Mbabazi.

The Museveni camp believes that the Mbabazi camp is being supported by an invisible force bigger than the Museveni camp can handle. Any force bigger than what Museveni can handle is usually a force from the Western capitals of Washington, London and Brussels.

There had been reports late last year of a meeting or meetings between the President and Jacqueline Mbabazi, Amama Mbabazi’s outspoken wife, during which Museveni is said to have asked Ms Mbabazi why she was discussing him with diplomats at the American Embassy in Kampala and, said the reports, Ms Mbabazi tried to draw the Americans’ attention to how much Museveni was becoming a liability to Uganda.

As Kenya comes increasingly under the real threat of terrorism and medium-term instability and the eastern African region in general still under much uncertainty, the advantage Museveni presents to foreign powers is the tried and tested stability in Uganda.

Social services, infrastructure and other responsibilities of government might be in a shambles, but in the broader strategic sense, a relatively stable country is still an asset in a region marked by armed conflict. What is alarming the Museveni camp, one source recently suggested, was the fact that Washington in particular is starting to think seriously about Mbabazi as a potential successor to Museveni.

It is not clear if the United States is weighing the possibility of Mbabazi as an immediate successor in 2016, or an eventual successor after 2021.
Whichever it is, it sheds new light on the intriguing statement Mbabazi made last year, in which, choosing his words carefully, he said he would not contest against President Museveni. He did not say he would not contest at all, but that it would not be against Museveni.

In 2001 when former army colonel Dr Kizza Besigye decided to contest for the presidency, the Minister of State for Defence, Amama Mbabazi, was quick to sound out a point of information, which was that there was a “queue” which Besigye was attempting to jump.

Mbabazi, or the Mbabazi camp at any rate, insists that in 2003 or before, Museveni made a commitment to Mbabazi that it would be Mbabazi to succeed him. The Mbabazi camp believes Museveni either went back on his word or is trying to find a way of breaking his pledge to Mbabazi. This is roughly where the political situation stands at present. How will the incumbent take this serious challenge to his power, a challenge from inside his party?

It would appear that Mbabazi plans to mount a challenge to Museveni from inside the NRM, partly because he believes he has as much legitimacy as Museveni to bring a “historical” member from 1981, and partly as bait to get Museveni to expel him from the party and, with that, give him the pretext to formally breakaway and point the blame at Museveni.

To Museveni, any prospect of a challenge to his presidency, especially from within his party, is not simply democracy as usual; it is tantamount, in his eyes, to an attempted military coup.

Should Mbabazi go ahead and declare his challenge for 2016, Uganda will have to brace itself for a year of political upheaval similar to what we witnessed in 2001 during the first Besigye challenge, when Museveni, unaccustomed to a challenge from so close (Besigye, Winnie Byanyima), pulled off his gloves and went “native”. It was one of the nastiest election campaigns in Ugandan history.

The only difference this time is that Museveni will be dealing with a man experienced in the cloak-and-dagger intelligence world of disinformation, concealment and subterfuge. Mbabazi has been at the heart of the NRM election machinery since the 1996 general election. He would know how rigging is done, if it is done or attempted, how the voter register is used, and other methods.

Two cunning former FRONASA guerrillas would be meeting in the ring. A Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao title fight.

As for the Opposition parties, for the next few months they will go through their election roadmaps, update their party registers and start seeking prospective candidates for the presidency and parliamentary seats.

But the Opposition, like most of the country, will be spectators as the drama between Museveni and Mbabazi unfolds. There are unconfirmed rumours that Mbabazi might be discreetly seeking to make contact with certain Opposition parties, including the main one, the FDC.

Of one thing we can be sure, regardless of the outcome of the 2016 election: the NRM as a party will never be the same again. It will survive but an internal debate about the party after Museveni will gain momentum and some of it will be in public.

Uganda’s Stability in troubled region

As Kenya comes increasingly under the real threat of terrorism and medium-term instability and the eastern African region in general still under much uncertainty, the advantage Museveni presents to foreign powers is the tried and tested stability in Uganda.

Social services, infrastructure and other responsibilities of government might be in a shambles, but in the broader strategic sense, a relatively stable country is still an asset in a region marked by armed conflict.

What is alarming the Museveni camp, one source recently suggested, was the fact that Washington in particular is starting to think seriously about Mbabazi as a potential successor to Museveni. It is not clear if the United States is weighing the possibility of Mbabazi as an immediate successor in 2016, or an eventual successor after 2021.

Source — Daily Monitor.


About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.

One Comment


  1.  
    Dk

    This is too long somebody please translate and summarise for my little brain. Thanks





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