10 March 2014

Uganda: Mbabazi - Museveni Calls 3rd MPs Caucus

Photo: Capital FM
Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi.

For the third time in two weeks, President Museveni has summoned the NRM parliamentary caucus.

The Observer understands that MPs hope that by the time they leave State House, they will have put final touches on a plan to derail Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi's suspected schemes to run for president in 2016.

The Monday meeting is the third in barely two weeks, as President Museveni seeks to further stamp his authority on a fractured party. It was called on Friday, a day after Museveni issued a statement "correcting" press reports about last week's stormy caucus meetings.

"Those meetings spent some time discussing the rumours, which have been circulating, with a view to ending them and galvanise the cohesion of the Movement. Unfortunately, the media has put out a lot of distortions purporting to be relaying the conclusions of these caucus meetings," Museveni said in a statement issued late on Thursday, March 6.

Caucus Vice-Chairperson David Bahati told The Observer at the weekend that Monday's meeting is a follow-up on the unresolved issues in the previous meetings.

"It is going to focus on the general politics of the party; there are some issues that we did not conclude... " Bahati said.

Among the unresolved issues is the budget for the MPs tapped to carry out a massive campaign in constituencies to 'detoxicate' Mbabazi's propaganda.

It is not yet clear how much each of the NRM MPs will get, but the budget was expected to be discussed today.

In last week's meetings, MPs resolved to refer Mbabazi's matter to the party's top organ; the Central Executive committee (CEC) to take disciplinary action especially against his wife Jacqueline and his in-law Hope Mwesigye for moblising politically against the party chairman Museveni.

No complaint

Also lined up for disciplinary action are the party's district administrative secretaries believed to be supportive of Mbabazi's undeclared presidential ambition.

Last week's scheduled CEC meeting was cancelled to allow the caucus to meet for a second day. Last Tuesday, the MPs discussed Museveni's intelligence report that pinned Mbabazi for scheming against him.

But Soroti Municipality MP Mike Mukula, who is also a member of CEC, told The Observer that Museveni was yet to make a formal complaint against Mbabazi.

"We are yet to receive officially Museveni's complaint," Mukula told us on Saturday.

However, in his March 6 statement, Museveni claimed that the caucus did not pass any formal resolutions for disciplinary action against the implicated party leaders.

"Various levels of NRM, including CEC, are still studying the sources and authenticity of these rumours. In any case the NRM Parliamentary caucus did not pass formal resolutions," Museveni's statement partly reads.

Dissenters scared

When Northern Youth MP Evelyn Anite moved the motion proposing Museveni as NRM's sole candidate going into 2016, at least 240 of the party's 264 MPs endorsed the motion.

Apart from MPs Godfrey Kiwanda Ssuubi (Mityana North) and Ignatius Besisira (Buyaga East) who boldly challenged the party's internal democratic credentials during last Tuesday's meeting, other would-be dissenters remained quiet for fear of party retribution.

"Some of us want an open contest though [we] may not necessarily be backing him [Mbabazi]; but we want to see internal democracy flourish," said an MP who did not want to be named.

Speaking to The Observer on Friday, Kiwanda said: "Not all of us can discuss this issue on principle, very few people can stand up and challenge the president, but it is for the good of the country."

But Mukula argues that coming up against Museveni would be a miscalculation by any party member.

"Nobody within NRM can win an election without the support of Museveni. It is not possible; he is a strong brand within the party and the country at large," said Mukula.

During last week's caucus meetings, Museveni spoke harshly of Mbabazi's perceived bid to succeed him, telling him to wait until the system automatically chooses him.

But one critical NRM MP complained about freedom fighters "trying to resemble monarchies, grooming their sons to take over after them."

"They take long to believe that somebody else can do what they have done," the MP added.

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