- Hours after his Forum for Democratic Change [FDC] together with other political parties and civil society organizations put pen to paper to form a new coalition that is hoped to oust the current NRM government, Col Dr Kizza Besigye has trumpeted his intention to contest in the coming 2016 election.
On Wednesday morning, the opposition political parties unveiled ‘The Democratic Alliance,’ a platform where they are set to front a joint candidate for both president and other elective positions in the forthcoming general elections.
Later in the evening, Col Besigye told an FM Political talk show in Kampala that he would be available if the coalition’s candidates’ committee zeroed on him to tassel against NRM’s President Yoweri Museveni yet again in next February’s polls.
He stated, “I am willing to offer myself for whatever it takes, whatever will advance the struggle to the transition that we need; I will be available.”
Besigye appreciated that the process of picking that one candidate would not be an easy task, considering that a wide range of interests will be at play.
“The new process provides that the candidates must be chosen by consensus. Now that is not easy. Most of our people are preoccupied by the ‘self’ and not the common good. Therefore, for that process to advance to point where all of them feel comfortable to say ‘for the common good, I don’t have to be the one,’ it’s not going to be quick and easy,” he said.
Besigye’s 2016 bid comes only less than a year after he vowed never to contest again in an election where President Yoweri Museveni is a candidate.
In November last year, Dr Besigye told media that he would not stand in 2016 and that he would use “other means to dismantle the dictatorship.”
He however, reverted this stance on Wednesday saying that contesting to become a president has no limits, citing Nigeria’s newly elected President Muhammad Buhari, who won the election on the forth try.
“There is a big difference between seeking a term and serving a term. Anybody who goes in an election is not serving a term, he is seeking that term and certainly terms can be sought as many times as the seeker of the term wants. There’s absolutely no harm in that.”
Besigye also scoffed at Ugandans who are against his candidacy, noting that he in fact is not obsessed with contesting in elections.
“I have heard people against my candidacy; they want me to allow others to also taste, etc. It’s as though some people think that being a candidate to challenge a dictator is a cup of tea, and that it’s something I look forward to undertake. No! It’s actually a tough call, I have been a candidate 3 times and I can tell you it’s a tough call from all angles.”
“Candidates get out of the campaigns in a pretty bad shape; it is a huge cost on the person. You saw, my sister Betti Kamya in 2011; she needed a medical operation in the middle of the election!”
He added, “Its huge toll on your personal resources and your family. I’m not dying to be a candidate, but I am willing to offer myself for whatever it takes, whatever will advance the struggle to the transition we need I will be available.”
Besigye’s decision to take on President for the fourth time, it is reported, was largely fueled by pressure from a section of FDC members who believe that his absence in next year’s election means that Museveni will sail through with ease.
Reports indicate that supporters have been constantly thronging his home in Kasangati, pushing him to drop his earlier stance and offer himself for 2016.
Mbabazi not fit yet
Challenged on whether he would support any other candidate fronted by the coalition, including former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, Dr Besigye made known his reservations.
He said, while the former Premier is welcome to the coalition like any other Ugandan in support of the anti-Museveni struggle, he should not be drawn too close too fast.
He stated, “There are no permanent enemies in this area of struggle. Anybody can change. We should not be prejudiced. In principle, I would find no difficulty in supporting people who have been causing problems in the past, and in this country there are very few people without such baggage, but if we can of course avoid people with a lot of baggage, why not?”
Mbabazi was at the collation inauguration represented by his close confidant and in-law Hope Mwesigye, who informed the meeting that he was out of the country and on return; he would look into signing the new protocol.
Meanwhile Dr Besigye revealed that the opposition’s quest for electoral reforms ahead of next year’s election is still ongoing.
“Reforms are critical ahead of the elections and this is the struggle at hand, and we are not going to relent. We’ll fight to make sure that we don’t have a referee who is also a player,” he noted.