MP Betty Nambooze (Mukono) and former MP Makindye Hussein Kyanjo, who were asked to mediate between the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) and Justice Forum (JEEMA) ahead of the parliamentary elections in the newly created Bugiri Municipality have conceded defeat.
FDC and Jeema have both fronted candidates in the race, Eunice Namatende for the former and, Asuman Basalirwa for the latter; after their hope to agree on a single candidate hit a snag.
Nambooze and Kyanjo were contacted by officials in FDC, led by former Presidential candidate Col Dr Kizza Besigye to mediate between the two rivalling opposition sides.
Addressing press this morning in Kampala, the two mediators acknowledged that their failure to unite the two sides were likely to play to the advantage of the ruling NRM party, whose candidate John Francis Oketcho was nominated yesterday along with all the five candidates in the race.
Nambooze said when she was contacted together with Kyanjo by Besigye for mediation, she decided to do it silently, and hoped that a middle ground would be reached soon.
“Besigye called me and Kyanjo to try to bring about harmony. We were tasked to go and tell our brothers and sisters in FDC and Jeema that this fight is not about political parties or religion or tribe but fighting a common enemy and that we are stronger together,” she said. “We engaged quietly, we didn’t want to get media attention.”
According to Nambooze, and Kyanjo, the mediation team drew a number of plans, aimed at finding which one of the two candidates was stronger.
“We were to select three FDC people and three Jeema supporters in every village in Bugiri, who were to go out and find out about the popularity of either one of the candidates,” Kyanjo explained to the press.
When this plan failed, the team came up with the idea of having a joint rally in Bugiri, where the Jeema and FDC candidates would come out and address thousands of voters and then a determination would be made on who has stronger support. This plan too failed,
“Unfortunately we failed to unite the two sides to focus on one candidate,” said Nambooze.
The Mukono MP said however, that this disagreement can be managed without causing too much damage to the opposition; as was the case in Mukono when she had to run against the FDC candidate.
“We told colleagues that even when we have two candidates in the race, we can emerge winners as the opposition.”
“There is no need to pull the focus away from the real enemy to ourselves.”
“We are all prisoners in this and it would be irresponsible for us prisoners to start fighting each other”
Mr Kyango at the press conference, stressed that the Bugiri difference should not divert the opposition from the common good.
“I apologize for the apparent failure; it wasn’t because of lack of trying” he added.
The Bugiri elections are slated for July 10th.