The Weekly Observer | Museveni offers Mbabazi VP deal

Posted May 4, 2015 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Inside Politics ~ 39,145 views



President worried power struggle might split NRM with elections 8 months away. To calm the public feud between him and Amama Mbabazi, his former confidant, President Museveni has initiated dialogue, The Observer has learnt.

Reliable sources have told us that President Museveni made the move two weeks ago because he is getting increasingly worried that Mbabazi’s political mobilization for a presidential bid in next year’s elections might split the ruling NRM.

During a meeting between the two principals at the Twin towers building, which houses both the office of the president and office of the prime minister, Museveni reportedly offered Mbabazi a deal in return for dropping his alleged presidential bid.

Mbabazi, who was ousted as prime minister and later NRM secretary general late last year, as the party moved to curtail his ambitions, was reportedly offered a power-sharing deal that would make the Kinkiizi West MP deputy president after the elections. He was also offered a shot at the presidency in 2021, the year in which President Museveni has promised to retire.

Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, who is close to both men, chaired the meeting which was also attended by Museveni’s younger brother Gen Salim Saleh, and the minister for Internal Affairs Gen Aronda Nyakairima.

Museveni reportedly tried to appeal to Mbabazi’s emotions, reminding him about their old past. He wondered why Mbabazi was walking away from a brotherly relationship they have built over years to run against him in the next elections.

Museveni also expressed worries that Mbabazi’s activities were dividing the party and could eventually cause its disintegration.


To get Mbabazi back, Museveni reportedly suggested an amendment of Article 108 of the constitution to replace the vice president with a deputy president, something akin to the Kenyan model.

After the 2016 elections, Museveni reportedly offered, Mbabazi would become a deputy president with some executive powers, a departure from the current arrangement where a vice president performs largely ceremonial duties.

Interviewed on Saturday, Rugunda carefully avoided discussing the meeting.

“All I want to see is harmony in the [NRM] and the country at large because harmony in the party will enhance nationwide harmony and national leadership,” Rugunda said.


According to sources, however, Mbabazi did not warm up to Museveni’s promises because he was mindful that his former boss had “broken previous agreements.”

One such agreement, our sources indicate, was in the run-up to the 2011 elections. Sometime in 2010, during a meeting attended by NRM vice chairman Moses Kigongo, Museveni reportedly asked Mbabazi to prepare early for a presidential run in the 2016 elections.

Mbabazi was, therefore, left shell-shocked, according to these sources, by the NRM MPs’ Kyankwanzi resolution of February 2014 endorsing Museveni as sole candidate in the 2016 elections.

Mbabazi reportedly told his close associates that before the retreat, he had consulted Museveni on his commitment to their gentleman’s agreement, and Museveni had responded that he was still consulting.

From Kyankwanzi, Mbabazi reportedly went back to Museveni and asked again whether the president had changed his mind about 2016.


Museveni reportedly said he would seek re-election because he had more issues to accomplish before leaving. Mindful of that broken promise, Mbabazi is said to have rejected the deal Museveni offered him during the Twin towers meeting.

“The deal would be okay but you’ll still retain the powers to sack,” Mbabazi reportedly told Museveni in the meeting.

To prove his commitment, Museveni suggested that the agreement be put on paper for the two to sign. That is when Mbabazi reportedly set conditions. He demanded that Museveni revokes the appointment of the new NRM secretariat and allows him to complete his term as secretary general in September 2015.

Mbabazi also asked Museveni to call another NRM delegates’ conference and rescind all changes to the NRM constitution that were adopted last year, which he insists were illegally adopted. One such change made the position of secretary general appointive, and not elective.

At that point, Museveni excused himself from the meeting to attend to other engagements, leaving Rugunda to conclude the dialogue. Though no agreement was reached, our sources have indicated that another meeting has been scheduled.

The Observer understands that Museveni decided to meet Mbabazi in March after a meeting with his sister-in-law Joy Zatwoshaho, an elder sister to Mbabazi’s wife, Jacqueline. (See: Mbabazi in-law in secret meet with Museveni; The Observer, March 23-24).

A former minister linked to the Mbabazi camp told The Observer in a recent interview that Mbabazi is not interested in a political deal because his struggle is “not about personalities but the direction and future of the country.”

“We want the institutions to work; the time is now for someone to take over [from Museveni]. Even if it is Mbabazi or not, someone should take over [the presidency] for the good of our country,” the former minister said.

Before he went to meet Museveni, Mbabazi is understood to have first consulted his associates both within NRM and the opposition. He is also said to have briefed the same group thereafter. Disappointed by Mbabazi’s defiance, the Museveni team reportedly came up with other proposals to win him back.

Rugunda is said to have suggested that Museveni disowns the sole candidate resolution so as to allow Mbabazi to compete in the NRM primaries, a suggestion the former secretary general accepted but with some conditions. Mbabazi warned that the primaries would have to be free and fair.

Mbabazi’s camp has previously claimed that the December 15, 2014 delegates’ conference at Namboole had a big number of “police crime preventers” in attendance as delegates.

Mbabazi is said to have told the meeting that if he stood and lost to Museveni in a transparent party primary election, he would give up his ambition and stand behind Museveni as the party’s flag bearer. He said the same should be expected from the president.

The sole candidate resolution, which Mbabazi describes as an opinion that doesn’t bind the party, was passed by the NRM parliament caucus meeting at Kyankwanzi for their retreat in February 2014. Its mover, Evelyn Anite, who has since been appointed minister, ambushed Mbabazi, forcing him to sign the resolution against his will.

Asked about his proposal to allow Mbabazi to compete in the NRM primaries, Rugunda said in the Saturday interview that the party constitution will deal with the issue of candidates in the primaries.

“The constitution will guide us on that one. There are always different views in the party, but the guiding line is the constitution. I think it is clearly explained,” Rugunda said.

On her part, NRM secretary general Justine Kasule Lumumba, who said she was not aware of the talks, nevertheless warmed up to such a development.

“I am not aware [of the talks] but if they are there, then that is good for the country, for the party and even for us individuals because we need harmony; Ugandans need peace,” Lumumba said on Saturday.

“President Museveni has always had an open mind for talks with everyone, including people you can never think of like [LRA rebel leader Joseph] Kony. If he extended an olive branch to Kony, why not to Mbabazi? We need to pray for the talks between the two such that we get something better for the party and the country,” Lumumba added.

Security minister Mary Karooro Okurut, in a separate interview, said she could not form an opinion until she got concrete confirmation that the two former allies had met.

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.



    What? Does UG now belong to Museveni and his brotherly love to deal away? our leadership seem to have completely lost direction and purpose. They really have forgotten the pple they meant to serve. That’s not cool patronising Ugandans to this level. When did arrogance become the only attractive quality in a leader?

    Bwambuga Wamboka

    This is very disparaging development. Two men striking a deal about leadership in Uganda while the poor citizens are being jammed into a room for fake campaigns and elections. Ugandans must really wake up to this reality and take their country back for themselves. After all its all “For God and My Country”.

    Omunet Joseph

    Splendid yet pocketfriendly

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