With less than six months before the 2021 elections, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), faces a big dilemma: Who will carry the party’s presidential flag in the election?
Party president Patrick Amuriat, is reported to have said that if Dr Kizza Besigye, the inspirational former party leader, was to offer himself as the party’s presidential flag bearer, he would sail through unopposed.
Amuriat’s comments have lit a firestorm with some analysts saying if FDC was this follow this route then it would not be any different from the NRM, where Museveni was recently declared unopposed.
Indeed, party officials have been quick to say that those were the views of Amuriat and not the position of the party.
On his part, Besigye remains coy on whether he is willing to face President Museveni for the fifth time.
An analysis done by The Nile Post reveals that over the last two years, Besigye has been asked this question variously, eleven times on different media platforms.
The last time when he faced this question was last week when he featured on NTV’s On the Spot.
He told the moderator that the question should not be about “who” but on “what” should be done to redirect the country, which in his view has gone off the political rails.
A focus on his candidature, he maintained with a tinge of irritation in his voice, would only be diversionary.
Sources within FDC have told this reporter that over the last year, the party has grappled with the possibility of Besigye not being its presidential flag bearer in 2021.
We have been told that various delegations have trekked to Kasangati trying to lure the man from Rwakabengo, in Rukungiri, to contest again.
Sources told us that Besigye has always insisted in the meetings that he is not interested in the mere formality of being the party’s flag bearer.
“He says the political and electoral system is rotten and under the current circumstances elections can’t be an avenue to change it,” said one of the people knowledgeable about the meetings.
It is the same position Besigye held in the run up to the 2016 elections only that he later changed his mind after some urging from senior party officials. That is why some are still clinging onto some hope that he could similarly change his mind.
For the time being, however, there is a stalemate.
Besigye, we have been told, also appears to have gotten tired of the talk that his presence on the scene has “blocked” other politicians from emerging within the opposition ranks.
While he has often rubbished this talk, he knows that even lie that is repeated often may start to sound like the truth.
One thing he has made clear from the meetings is that he will always be involved in the struggle for political reform.
Without Besigye on the ballot, some party officials fear that the party would perform dismally at the polls or even go into political oblivion.
As founding party president, Besigye has over the years embodied the political struggle with his “never give up spirit and dare-devil attitude.”
Indeed, partly because of his activism, NRM government has been forced to make some political concessions.
“We could go the same way like DP and UPC which lost steam after their influential leaders stepped down,” said the official predicting what would happen if Besigye opted not to stand again.
“They exist in name but they are not competitive.”
The official said would give Museveni and NRM psychological victory and would make
There are officials in FDC who believe that Besigye’s absence from the ballot would present the party with the biggest opportunity to move out of his shadow and recreate itself.
There have been suggestions that politicians like Kampala Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago, who joined the party recently or other senior leaders can pick up the mantle from Besigye.
Yet given the small time frame left, the party is scrambling to give the 2021 presidential election the best shot it has got.
Besigye’s rocky journey
Besigye has contested for the presidency four times and lost to President Museveni. On two occasions (2001 and 2006) he contested the outcome of the elections in the Supreme Court, only for the court to rule in Museveni’s favour.
In 2016, however, there was a groundswell of support for the retired colonel who garnered 3.5 million votes to Museveni’s 5.9 million, if results by the Electoral Commission are anything to go by.
This was a significant improvement from the 2.06 million votes he garnered in 2011.
Besigye has insisted that he won the past election although no irrevocable evidence has been adduced to support this claim.
However, Besigye’s best performance in terms of vote percentage remains the 2006 general election where he got 37.3%.
Suffice to say that Besigye has never scored below 25% in an election.
Some analysts have said that the emergence of Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine has complicated the political picture for Besigye further.
Kyagulanyi’s People Power movement (and the National Unity Platform) has gained traction in urban areas, which has been FDC’s natural support base.
It is still early days to make an accurate assessment of NUP’s political strength.