Opposition coalition in Uganda endorses former premier Mbabazi as presidential candidate

Amama Mbabazi has been endorsed by majority members in the opposition coalition The Democratic Alliance.

Amama Mbabazi has been endorsed by majority members in the opposition coalition The Democratic Alliance.

Majority political parties in The Democratic Alliance (TDA), an opposition coalition seeking to unseat President Yoweri Museveni, have thrown their support behind former prime minister Amama Mbabazi as their nominee for president in next year’s poll.

The five members of the alliance; Democratic Party (DP), Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) faction, Justice Party (Jeema), Federal Alliance and Peoples Progressive Party (PPP), met at TDA main offices in Naguru, near, Kampala and announced Mbabazi as their choice for president.

Mbabazi’s emergency as TDA candidate follows a chaotic and dramatic period in which coalition members had been deadlocked on the joint presidential candidate to take on the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM).

The other members of the coalition, the main opposition party in Uganda, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), and the Conservative party have declined to support the former prime minister.

Instead, FDC presidential nominee Dr, Kizza Besigye has submitted his nomination credentials to the country’s National Electoral Commission (NEC), an indication the three time presidential candidate is throwing his hat in the ring for the fourth time.

“I accept that nomination. To my fellow candidates, (Bukenya and Mao) I salute your decision to put the country first,” Mbabazi said after his nomination. Gilbert Bukenya, former vice president and Norbert Mao have yielded to Mbabazi.

Mr, Mbabazi reached out to FDC appealing to the most popular opposition outfit in the country to join and support the alliance.

“The doors are still open for Besigye to join us and I hope he will. With true unity, meticulous organisation and a focus that is razor sharp, we will win this election,’ Amama Mbabazi, the former secretary general of the ruling NRM stressed.

Analysts say the failure for the alliance to rally behind one candidate is both historical and ominous as it signals their chances of achieving victory in the forthcoming election are quite slim.

According to Norbert Mao, the outspoken Democratic Party President, it is time for the opposition to support and field Amama Mbabazi because Kizza Besigye has not delivered victory in the three previous elections.

“There are those who claim to have always fought for change but we don’t need people who show nothing. Mbabazi can lead us to victory.” Mao said while introducing Mbabazi.

Mr. Besigye told local press FDC is hesitant to support Mbabazi because of his lack of loyalty to, and clear understanding of the opposition’s quest for change.

“Our reservations on the candidature of Mbabazi were on his non-committal to the tenets of our struggle. He answered our questions by saying he would commit to those principles by turning from Saul to Paul. However, our central question was at what point would that Saul turned Paul become the leader of the disciples,” FDC flag bearer said.

One observer told Afrika Reporter there’s no way either Mbabazi or Besigye can yield for one another because the two men have “tremendously big egos” and each thinks they are entitled to TDA support.

This political commentator was even surprised TDA was formed in the first place  because “opposition in Uganda doesn’t often work together, and it lacks genuine spirit of unity.”