Heaven knows when former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi first conceived the idea of challenging his boss President Yoweri Museveni in an election; but when he did mull it over with family and close confidants, he got overwhelming support. Mbabazi says his supporters across the country too were insistent they had seen great leadership qualities in him and kept pushing.
His journey to the State House however, more or less officially started Monday June 15 when he sounded the declaration in a YouTube video; exactly six months after he was thrown out of the NRM leadership by the national Delegates conference in Nambole.
On hearing the announcement which had kept everyone on their toes for months, the population was immediately thrown in frenzy, NRM members were baffled, the opposition as well, security organs went on standby and President Museveni was angry.
Museveni, who had just landed from an AU Summit is South Africa [he said he got the news of the declaration while he traveled back] immediately called his media team and filmed a 17 minute response, before summoning Mbabazi and Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda for a late night meeting.
What transpired through Monday sent a vivid message to former Premier Mbabazi that his venture in challenging President Museveni might not be a walk in the park. He now realizes that all bounds will be stretched and the regime will stop at nothing in curtailing his ambitions in a number of ways.
Social media trolls
Amama Mbabazi made his announcement via his social media sites YouTube, Facebook and Twitter and indeed social media did hit right back. All of Monday and Tuesday, social media forums were awash with messages, opinions and videos critical of the former NRM SG’s candidature.
Chimpreports understands that a ferocious army of bloggers and social media pundits has been deployed to water down Mbabazi’s candidature and the 8-point program so to speak, he enlisted in his declaration.
Indeed through Monday the squad was at it uploading edited pictures, videos and cartoons, implicating Mbabazi in all sorts of criminal acts and corruption charges.
On Twitter, the battle was sparked by government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo who slammed Mbabazi, describing him as a man who won’t add value to the transformation of Uganda. “There is corruption and Amama Mbabazi is among those accused – Temangalo, CHOGM,” charged Opondo.
President Museveni Monday evening summoned Mbabazi to State House, where he according to our sources quizzed him about a letter he allegedly forged, containing derogatory and sectarian remarks by the President.
Museveni revealed that two suspects in police custody had provided ample and “possibly implicating” evidence pinning Mbabazi and his close associates for masterminding a smear campaign on social media aimed at tarnishing the president’s reputation and undermining his achievements.
“The police will have to look into it. People must be interviewed,” the president warned.
Reports from last evening’s meetings indicate that the outcomes were not encouraging and the two parties did not reach agreement especially on Museveni suggestion that Mbabazi drops his presidential bid.
This stalemate is likely to incense the President to take further action against the adamant Mbabazi.
Meanwhile, earlier in the day government owned New Vision reported that the ruling NRM party was considering punitive action against its former SG, while Daily Monitor quoted Police as announcing plans to summon Mbabazi for some questioning.
Once he hangs on up to the October National Delegates Conference, Mbabazi will be facing and campaigning before the same delegates that unceremoniously hounded him out of the party Executive on December 15 last year.
The very party leaders that convicted him of ineptitude as the party SG [even when he had delivered consecutive victories in the previous general elections], he will beg support to carry the party’s flag in year’s elections.
Mbabazi has in mind, borrowing from the December 2014 experience that he would need a lot of representation at the conference, [most of his supporters were reportedly locked out in the previous conference], but also a sizable financial muscle to win the delegates’ sympathy.
Some political observers now suggest that aware that he stands no chance before the delegate’s conference, Mbabazi thought upon losing in the primaries would have had a relatively strong ground to jump onto the newly formed Opposition coalition, the Democratic Alliance.
While he was out of the country a week ago, Mbabazi’s close confident and in-law, Hope Mwesigye attended the inauguration of the alliance and gave her word to the opposition leaders that he would consider joining the coalition.
However, the opposition path is also not clear, if the emerging sentiments, reservations and hooded mistrust are anything to go by.
While addressing the media on Monday, FDC President Gen Mugisha Muntu said Mbabazi’s decision to announce his contest in the NRM Primaries would diminish his chances of carrying the opposition flag in the 2016 elections.
This he said it would be even more unlikely if Mbabazi lost in the October NRM primaries. Earlier last week while appearing on a local FM hours after the launch of the Democratic Alliance, Former FDC President Col Kizza Besigye said while Mbabazi was welcome in the coalition, he was not fit to be trusted with the flag.
Reflecting on the persecution that he [Besigye] and the opposition has suffered in the past at the hands of Mbabazi, 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?”
Hours before Mr Mbabazi made the pronouncement on Monday, police came out with a stern warning against his supporters that were slated to stage demonstrations in Kampala, Municipalities, and other major towns in Uganda,
Arrests have since been reported in various parts of the country of Mbabazi supporters who are being accused of pinning his presidential posters before the election campaigns.
Heavy deployments have also been witnessed in Kampala, Mbabazi’s home district of Kanungu, Kabale, Mbabara Masaka and many others.