For the first time since its creation 16 years ago, FDC did not field Dr Kizza Besigye as its presidential candidate.
The task was entrusted with the party’s president, Patrick Oboi Amuriat, something that some analysts blame for the party’s poor performance in the last election.
Speaking to The Nile Post in an interview, Amuriat said as the party president, he has performed quite well without Besigye’s interference, dispelling claims that Besigye still hovers above the party.
Some people think that Dr Kizza Besigye still overshadows FDC. What have you done to overcome this perception within the population?
Anybody now talking about this especially after this election would know that they are not being honest. Previously, as I said, it would be automatic that Dr [Kizza] Besigye would be running in the election as president but he never ran [in 2021]. It didn’t stop us from fronting a candidate and this candidate was myself. So where was his shadow?
I run the party and I am at the helm of the party, no single day did Dr Besigye come to be part of the decision-making body. We can consult him from time to time.
Personally, how do you feel fitting into Besigye’s shoes? Do you think his shoes are too big for you?
Besigye went with his shoes. There are no shoes that he left behind. I came with a new pair of shoes. Those shoes [Besigye’s shoes] are big in the context of national politics. The biggest political name today is that of Besigye, not Patrick Oboi Amuriat, not Museveni, not Bobi Wine.
As far as the party is concerned, I have fitted in very well in the party. I have come with my own shoes, with my legs in the shoes fitting very well and you can see the kind of wonderful job I am doing now for my party and for my country. The party has been running without Besigye, even before I became president.
Dr Besigye left the leadership of the party and Gen [Mugisha] Muntu became president of the party. He ran the party to the best of his ability, then I came and I am running the party to the best of my ability of course supported by leadership at the national level and other levels.
What is the fate of the People’ Government given the state of the current political situation in Uganda today?
The People’s Government still remains relevant because its formation was premised on elections that had been rigged for a long period of time. We in FDC decided that Dr Kizza Besigye should play the role of activism and engage in the struggle that will bring the end of the dictator. I don’t see the People’s Government expiring because the struggle is still on.
FDC has failed several times to remove President Museveni, in your view what should be done to accomplish the mission?
A lot of these elections, we have won but we have never been declared. We have never had a legitimate election for anybody to say we failed to overcome Museveni. Actually, one thing that is very clear is that FDC provided leadership and this leadership is worth all political parties today. We laid a foundation. We will continue with the struggle.
Does FDC feel bad that NUP has taken over as the biggest opposition party in Parliament?
Our competition has not been with NUP and I want to emphasise this one more time. What we know is that they are going to have a leader of opposition which is a privilege to the opposition but what is important for us is how does that help our struggle in toppling the dictatorship.
If NUP uses their position in parliament to topple the dictatorship, then they would have moved the struggle to another level that we have not achieved yet.
This would be an achievement to the people of Uganda but if NUP is glorifying itself just because they are going to be the leading opposition party in the country, that is not going to help in the overall struggle.
Do you look at NUP as a challenge to FDC?
Not at all. National Unity Platform is a political party like FDC. We are a political party which is looking to change the status quo and we will continue to do this until the status quo is changed.
For us, we are not going to be distracted by anybody who is going to fight us whether they are NUP, or NRM. We are going to be focused in our struggle. It doesn’t matter the number of MPs we have in parliament.
Do you think FDC can regain its position as the leading opposition party?
Our aspiration was never to be in the opposition. Our aspiration is to take over the leadership of this country and run it to the satisfaction of the people of Uganda.
Looking at leading opposition as an achievement, it’s ok in terms of jobs but for us who have been leading opposition, our objective is to change the leadership of this country.
When you look at the percentage that has been allocated to the opposition in the last election, it has not been different from what has been allocated in the past. We are not worried about what may be seen as our loss of the opposition in parliament.
Many people expected you to win the whole Teso region, given the fact that you are the son of the soil. what went wrong?
I won in Teso and overwhelmingly. The results that were registered from Teso were not legitimate. Museveni through his soldiers in Teso intimidated everybody, they attacked some people, caused insecurity in Teso. He [Museveni] determined the direction of the results.You must know that he was so desperate about winning in that region. I don’t believe the results that were given to Teso.
Several attempts have been put in place to bring the opposition together but have not been successful. In your view do you think unity among the opposition is still possible?
We cannot completely rule out the possibility of the opposition uniting. Whereas some of our friends in the opposition have gone with the narrative of elections by itself bringing change to this country, we are saying that elections by itself and in itself cannot bring change in this country against the dictator.
Until we begin to read from the same page, it is going to be difficult to appreciate opposition unity. But also, we know that there are some [opposition] groups who have decided to work with Mr Museveni.
What advice can you give to NUP which is going to provide the next leader of opposition?
They must provide leadership that we provided in the House and we also want to see this leadership happening outside rather than concentrating in parliament. We want to see him or her [leader of opposition] bringing the troops out of the parliament and engaging with the population more than counting on a parliament that is totally biased, tuned in one direction and under instruction of Mr Museveni. I wish them luck.
What are some of your achievements as FDC party president?
When I took over the leadership of the FDC, I found the party was disunited. There was pulling and pushing within the party.
The stability of the party and increased membership are some of the achievements that I can count against my presidency. As a party, we encouraged our supporters to contribute towards the wellbeing of the party and we managed to raise funds. Some funds helped us run a successful campaign during the elections that have just been concluded.
Under my leadership over 200 candidates were nominated for member of parliament and supported through the elections of 2021. We also had a candidate and this candidate turned out to be myself.
Do you intend to contest for another term for the FDC president?
It’s too early to decide on that. We will cross the bridge when we get there and this has always been my answer. We will have internal discussions first, so we will cross the bridge when we get there. Of course, I see no reason as to why I should not run but again it’s not up to me, it’s up to my supporters and advisers.
Lastly, FDC endorsed Ibrahim Ssemujju for speakership, Is there any chance that he can win this race?
We go into a race to win, what do you want me to say that we don’t have the chance of winning the speakership? Why are we in the race? We are going to win.