5 May 2017

Uganda: FDC to Bobi Wine - Wait for 2021

Photo: BobiWineLive/Facebook
Bobi Wine.

Forum for Democratic Change [FDC] will not support popular musician Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu aka Bobi Wine in the yet-to-be scheduled Kyadondo East by-election, party officials have said.

The party said it will instead support Apollo Kantinti, its flag bearer in 2016, whose election was nullified by the High court and the nullification upheld by the Court of Appeal last week.

The courts said the Electoral Commission didn't adhere to electoral laws when it declared Katinti winner. Speaking to The Observer yesterday, FDC spokesperson Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda said that as a party, they can't organize fresh party primaries for the constituency.

"The tradition has been that when an MP has been removed from parliament, we don't go back for party primaries. That means Kantinti is the official candidate of FDC," said the Kira municipality MP.

Ssemujju, who represented Kyadondo East in the 9th parliament before it was split, said the party can only opt for primaries if it has evidence that its candidate can't win.

"But one who won and is in parliament and was just re- moved; he automatically retains the flag," said Ssemujju, who is also the opposition chief whip. He said FDC president Gen Mugisha Muntu has asked the party deputy president in charge of Buganda and Lubaga division mayor, Joyce Ssebugwawo, to speak to the two candidates and get one to step aside.

"I don't know whether that [speaking to the candidates] has started and whether it has any chance of succeeding," Ssemujju said.

Ssebugwawo neither picked nor returned our repeated calls yesterday. Bobi Wine, too, didn't respond to our calls and messages.

When this writer visited his Firebase office in Kamwokya, one of the singer's handlers called Kim said, "He [Bobi Wine] is in the constituency. He rarely comes here these days."

To boost their chances of winning FDC support, both Bobi Wine and Kantinti have courted FDC strongman Kizza Besigye and Mukono municipality MP Betty Nambooze Bakireke. Besigye is said to be close to both Bobi Wine and Kantinti, which complicates his decision on who of the two he will support during the by-election.

But speaking to The Observer at her home, Nambooze was unequivocal about the need to zero-in on one candidate as soon as possible, without disenchanting the electorate

"Any situation that will bring Bobi Wine and Kantinti in this race will be so bad for the opposition. It's not about them agreeing but it's about us as leaders. I'm going to lobby my colleagues to unite behind just one of them. If they agree that one of them stands down, that would be perfect. But if they don't, we as leaders must rally behind just one of them," Nambooze said.

"I have been very frank with them by giving them the same message that I want to employ a group of researchers to go in the constituency and advise us on who is the best of the two," she added.

Nambooze said the best candidate must have capacity to win easily, have enough resources to fund an election campaign and have capacity to be an effective MP.

"As the opposition, we are few; so, we must present our best in parliament when facing 400 MPs from the NRM," she said.

But Muwada Nkunyingi, an opposition-leaning independent candidate who came third in the Kyadondo East race during the 2016 general election, disagrees.

"It's not automatic that whenever you have many opposition candidates, then the NRM wins. There are always many considerations than political parties," Nkunyingi said.

Ssemujju, who stood against Kantinti in the 2011 FDC party primaries, said the opposition can win easily if it is united.

"The whole of FDC including me shall be in Kyadondo East supporting Kantinti. When we go there as FDC, I think we will be able to win. There is no doubt Bobi Wine is a popular person and he is certainly FDC but this is a by-election. He must understand that," he said.

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