Besigye Accused of Betraying Struggle against Museveni
Crossfire: Besigye Faces Jeema Over Basalirwa-Namatende Controversy
The Justice Forum (Jeema) party has accused opposition kingpin Dr Kizza Besigye of making a u-turn on the role of political parties in the struggle against three-decade president Yoweri Museveni.
Uganda’s opposition is sharply divided over the Bugiri Municipality MP election.
Besigye’s Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) is backing Eunice Namatende while a section of other opposition voices are on the side of Jeema’s Asuman Basalirwa.
Both Namatende and Basalirwa have been nominated.
A meeting of some opposition figures failed to decide on one candidate.
Consequently, the opposition strategy is to support both candidates with the view that one of them wins.
It is in the midst of this disagreement that Jeema is accusing Besigye of betrayal.
Jeema’s attack on Besigye stems from his media interview in which he said he would back a party candidate.
Hereunder is part of the interview’s transcript:
What Besigye Said on Asuman Basalirwa and Eunice Namatende
In Bugiri, it’s frustrating that it’s turning out to be some kind of friction between the forces that would be uniting to get change and treating Bugiri as a small element of the struggle where the strategic goal of maintaining unity and focusing our unity on the junta is not lost.
Really whether Eunice or Basalirwa goes to parliament is not going to change the strategic configurations of the struggle as it is. Regrettably, inspite of a lot of effort behind the scenes to try and get some consensus on who represents the forces of change, that doesn’t seem to realization of that important principle.
The delay to conduct nominations gives us another opportunity to make last minute realization of that important principle.
The principle here that all elections are local. Basalirwa has been our comrade all these years; the other lady that has been with us and a member of the party (FDC) which I subscribe to. I have nothing against either of them.
The important point of principe is who should determine the leadership for the people of Bugiri? Is it ourselves here (in Kampala) forming some kind of clique and imposing our views on the people of Bugiri or should the people of Bugiri should be part of that process of deciding?
My own very clear preference is that the local people should have a say; should be part of consensus building of deciding whom they want to become their representative in parliament.
That is the process that has, regrettably till now, not been favored especially by the Asuman Basalirwa Campaign Team. We have fronted the idea and they declined it. Their view is that Basalirwa is well know, senior without any process and demand that we should all embrace him because he has been part of us.
Hopefully, the extension of nomination will give us added time to engage, but should engagement fail and in the event both get nominated, I will quite obviously see where to go; and the most natural place to go for me is with the candidate who is from my party FDC!
I can’t go, without any extraordinary reason to oppose a candidate from FDC. That is not the sure I would have liked but it turns outs that our efforts for harmonization are being resisted from my brother Basalirwa Campaign Team.
But in the final analysis, Bugiri is one of over 370 constituencies in Uganda! It’s a small thing and so in a bigger scheme of things, it’s not a disaster whichever way it goes! However we must keep working on the principle. It is however regrettable if we don’t resolve it!
Jeema’s Response to Besigye’s Statement
We have received with regret Dr. Besigye’s statement on Bugiri Municipality elections where he has informed the public that JEEMA failed the negotiations for having a joint candidate in Bugiri.
I want to put out the following facts for the public to make their conclusions;
It was never the idea of Dr Besigye nor FDC to have a joint candidate in Bugiri. Instead, JEEMA wrote to different opposition parties for support of their candidate; Asuman Basalirwa and various parties and all agreed save for FDC whose leadership insisted that they should first subject us to a kamyufu of sorts before supporting us which we rejected.
Democratic party had a candidate in the names of Mukisa Richard Wakhooli whom they withdrew in favour of Basalirwa.
We have always been preached to that parties are not necessary in this struggle and our biggest disappointment today comes from the chief preacher of that gospel now telling Ugandans that his party is superior to the struggle of ousting the junta. What a shame!
Let that dishonesty talk of “he’s not on ground” end today and they (FDC) tell us boldly that they are building their party and the liberation struggle is secondary.
We’ve had enough of dishonesty.
Sentongo Kyamundu, JEEMA spokesman