A total of 10 Members of Parliament on the Forum for Democratic Change ticket have declared their departure from the party.
The crisis in the biggest opposition party emanated from the November 2017 FDC presidential election that pitted party leaders and members loyal to former President and founder, Dr. Kizza Besigye against those backing then president, Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu.
The Besigye group carried that day and Patrick Amuriat Oboi was declared the FDC president. Muntu and former FDC Secretary General, Alice Alaso moved on and started another political party named Alliance for National Transformation.
The Amuriat presidency thereafter however, embarked on persecuting those who supported Muntu, starting from Teso region where the former hails from.
Kasilo county MP Elijah Okupa, Herbert Ariko of Soroti Municipality and Soroti woman MP Angelina Osege became the first victims.
The trio has been denied forms for FDC primaries and sole candidates declared in their constituencies. In Soroti municipality former parliamentary employee, Attan Okia Moses has been declared the FDC sole candidate and the Soroti woman MP flag has been given to National Female Youth MP, Anna Adeke.
When contacted by our reporter, Okupa and Elijah uniformly said their fate in FDC was sealed the moment Amuriat took office.
“We were seen as traitors and in fact treated worse than NRM members in Teso,” said one of the MPs.
Angelina Osege was removed from being the chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee and replaced with Nandala Mafabi, another arch rival of Mugisha Muntu.
In Kasese, woman MP and former Leader of Opposition Winnie Kiiza was sidelined together with Kasese Municiplaity MP, Robert Centenary and Jackson Mbaju of Busongora County south. The fate of Bukonzo County west MP Atkins Godfrey Katusabe remains hanging as he was also part of the Muntu group.
In May 2019 the four MPs didn’t show up to welcome Dr. Besigye, Amuriat and FDC national mobilizer Ingrid Turinaye in the district.
In Acholi, Reagan Okumu of Aswa and Samuel Odonga Otto of Aruu South have left the party. Okumu, one of the founders of FDC, was denied the flag in favor of former Gulu municipality MP Christopher Achire.
In Kampala, woman MP Nabilah Nagayi Ssempala has been denied the flag for the Mayoral race and in Bugweri, Adbu Katuntu declared his departure on Capital FM on Saturday.
When contacted on phone the Makerere University Political History Don, Prof. Mwambutsya Ndebesa said the FDC crisis is embedded on indistinguishable leadership and power of authority between Besigye and Amuriat.
“The departure of MPs has left the future of FDC hanging. The leadership ambiguity is a challenge in the party,” he said.
Adding: “It is not clear who has the central authority between Dr. Besigye and Amuriat.”
The scholar noted that failure to declare a presidential candidate has precariously created a vacuum in FDC, something that has adverse political effect.
“Besigye is nowhere to be seen and Amuriat is quiet. Politics hate vacuum and that is what has been created in FDC,” he noted.
Ndebesa stressed that there is authority fragmentation in FDC and it is exacerbated by the party constitution that doesn’t make the party president a presidential candidate in the general elections.
The FDC Spokesman, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda on the other hand said the exodus of MPs will not weaken the party as they are open to recruiting more members.
“Let me start by announcing to you that we have been joined by MP Anna Adeke as you (media) concentrate on those leaving us,” said Ssemujju.
Adding: “We are focusing on getting new members other than tying on those who already left us sometime back.”
When confronted that failure to consolidate members is a sign of leadership weakness, Ssemujju said the party is interested in building the institution not individuals.
“We shall consolidate the institution not people. People come and go and others die,” said SSemujju.
It should be noted that was a member of Muntu camp that believe in institution building. It is rumored that Dr. Besigye and Lukwago had to approach the Kibuli Mosque leadership to return Ssemujju and the latter gave a condition that he should remain the party Spokesman and be made the Leader of Opposition in the next Parliament.
FDC lost 18 MPs in the 2016 election and gained 14 new ones. The number is however expected to keep reducing as many incumbents leave the party.