DETAILS emerging from the meeting at the FDC headquarters at Najjanankumbi last Sunday indicate that David Pulkol was the only delegate who opposed the election of Col. (rtd) Kizza Besigye as party chairman.
Highly placed FDC sources said Pulkol, the former Director General of External Security Organisation, shot up and proposed that the post should be taken by the former Army Commander, Maj. Gen. (rtd) Mugisha Muntu.
But Muntu, who had been tipped to become the national mobiliser, seconded Besigye and moved a motion that nominations be closed. The motion was immediately adopted.
Pulkol told Sunday Vision that his comments were in good faith. “The country knows my anti-war stand, views on internal democracy and need for a greater coalition of all democratic forces not to hand over power to tyranny and corrupt cliques in 2006,” he explained. He added that his comrades should know that history is a hard judge. “We must exercise caution lest in solving one problem we create a bigger one.”
The purpose of the meeting was to draw strategies to win the elections next year.
Members voted Besigye because they think he is the most politically fierce and feared opposition leader in FDC who poses a formidable challenge to the NRM. Although the party has not yet picked a presidential candidate for the 2006 polls, it is widely believed Besigye will be the flag bearer.
“The strategy was to put a solid person, President Museveni fears most to lead FDC,” said one of the leaders.
Reagan Okumu said, “We are presenting a team, not individuals to lead the country. This team will deliver hope and take the country back on the democratic path.”
Okumu also said the FDC economic plan for the country would not be based on mere promises. “Our strategy for 2006 is what Ugandans want. We are presenting a humble and realistic economic programme that will be easy to implement,” he said.
FDC is a loose coalition of three organisations, the Reform Agenda headed by Besigye, the National Democratic Forum of Chapaa Karuhanga and the Parliamentary Advocacy Forum of Augustine Ruzindana. The three are among the politicians opposed to a Cabinet proposal to scrap the presidential term limits.
The party’s delegates’ conference is planned for June after the establishment of the structures and going through the primaries. Another delegates’ conference for electing the presidential candidate is slated for later this year.
The second strategy is how to capture votes in Buganda, which has been President Museveni’s stronghold. To tap votes from Buganda, FDC resolved that veteran politician Sam Njuba, its heaviest weight in the region, should be the Executive Coordinator, which in effect is the number two slot in the administration.
The focus then shifted to how catholics in Buganda can be brought on board. It was agreed that since Prince Kimera is very close to the church and to the Democratic Party and Mengo, he becomes one of the vice-chairpersons.
Kimera is a former task force member of the Col. Kizza Besigye 2001 election campaign team. He was also a Constituent Assembly delegate. He is said to be a good mobiliser.
Some Mengo officials were reportedly at the FDC office when elections were being held. They were, however, technically left out of the executive to comply with the constitutional provisions restricting traditional leaders’ involvement in partisan politics. The name of Prince David Wasajja, which had appeared on the initial list of executive members as a deputy to Muntu, was withdrawn on those grounds.
Northern Uganda votes
Four slots went to Acholi and West Nile Region to consolidate the support there. Prof. Ogenga Latigo was elected one of the vice-chairpersons, while Reagan Okumu, who has connections with the diplomatic community and has some influence in the Acholi region, was named deputy executive co-ordinator.
Kasiano Wadri, who defected from the Democratic Party to the FDC and fiery legislator Alex Onzima who has never hidden his hatred for president Museveni, were named vice-chairperson and deputy executive coordinator respectively.
Negotiations with Wadri reportedly took a long time. His defection is said to have severely affected the operations of the Democratic Party in the region.
MP John Drazu Arumadri (Madi Okollo) and MP in the sixth Parliament, Ali Gabe, are to play a major role in West Nile. Gabe, a veteran lawyer and a former CID officer, has been put in charge of the Human Rights desk. Hassan Fungaro from Obongi is to take on Obongi MP Pataki Amasi to capture the Moyo vote.
To balance the gender equation, Alice Alaso (Teso) Salaam Musumba (Busoga) and Beti Kamya were given slots in the executive. But in an executive of over 15 the three are the only women. MP Wandera Ogalo who has been instrumental in drafting the FDC documents is also expected to play a role in the Busoga region.
The next strategy is to ensure that the confidence of the opposition supporters is restored. It had been noted that as a result of intimidation and arrests after the 2001 elections, many of Besigye’s supporters were scared of identifying with him. Former Army commander Maj. Gen. (rtd) Mugisha Muntu has been assigned the task of national mobiliser.
Western Uganda votes
In western Uganda FDC has targeted the key people President Museveni has relied on since the days of the struggle.
Former first Deputy Prime Minister Eriya Kategaya was elected as one of the envoys to sell the party. Ruzindana was elected one of the deputy executive co-ordinators.
Contrary to reports that these people had been sidelined, they are the ones who will run the show. According to the organisation structure, they will be answerable to the chairman. The choice of the two is also to re-assure the west that they will not lose out when FDC takes over power.
Others who will run the show in western Uganda are Muntu, Miria Matembe who is expected to head the party’s women’s league, Maj. (rtd) John Kazoora, Capt. (rtd) Guma Gumusiriza, Johnson Nkuuhe, Bunyaruguru MP Twabireho Ntungako and Capt. Charles Byaruhanga. But Matembe declined the position of chairperson of the women’s league.
FDC sources say East African Community Secretary General Col. (rtd) Amanya Mushega and former minister Richard Kaijuka are also expected to come on board once the party’s foundation has been set. According to the FDC strategy, they want to control Acholi, Ankole, Kigezi, Buganda and Busoga within three months after the launch of the party slated for next week.
For Kigezi region, James Garuga Musinguzi, MP Jack Sabiiti, former LC5 chairman Athanasia Rutaro and Rukingiri district speaker Ingrit Turinawe are expected to play a vital role in mobilisation. The other target is to end the political career of the Movement’s National Political Commissar Crispus Kiyonga in Kasese. To consolidate the vote there, MP Christopher Kibazanga is to spearhead the campaign. On the women’s front, FDC’s Winnie Kiiza is set to battle for the Kasese Woman seat with the incumbent Loyce Bwambale.
Eastern Uganda votes
Another FDC strategic intervention is to capture votes in Samia region and the greater Teso. FDC spokesman Wafula Oguttu is to prepare the ground in Samia, whose people are already disenchanted by the Uganda Revenue Authority’s hard stance on smuggling — their means of survival.
Those who will mobilise in the greater Teso include MPs Patrick Amuriat Oboi, Dr. Francis Epetait, Elijah Okupa and Alice Alaso. Soroti businessman Peter Omollo is being lined up to rout incumbent State minister for health Capt. Mike Mukula. But political temperatures in Teso only rise towards election time.
MP Geoffrey Ekanya (Tororo county) will be in charge of Tororo while MPs Nandala Mafabi and Wilfred Kajeke will represent Bugisu region. There are also high-level talks between FDC and Mbale UPC strongman Darlington Sakwa.
In Karamoja region Kotido LC5 chairman Adome Lokwi is the linkman to be assisted by a one Sylvia Anasa.
Pulkol, who hails from this region, turned down the position of head of research, manifesto and policy. he is now an ordinary member.
Other local leaders who have remained firm with FDC despite alleged intimidation from the state are also to be rewarded with positions in the party. Bushenyi district speaker Odo Tayebwa and other district leaders will join the mobilisation team.
On the international frontline are Josephine Wapakhabulo, the daughter of the late foreign affairs minister, Sam Akaki who has been named external co-ordinator for UK and Anne Mugisha for the US. Others are Munini Mulera (Canada), Dr. Chris Kibuuka and Dr. Peter Angura for southern Africa.
The youth desk will for the meantime be headed by Aruu MP Odonga Otto. There were rumours that Otto had been in secret talks with the Movement to abandon the opposition. Otto will be deputised by Prossy Nambuya, who contested for the eastern youth seat in 2001 and a minister in the Buganda government.
Some members of the business community have also pledged financial support.
Winnie Byanyima, although not on the executive, is likely to play a key role as an envoy to lobby international bodies. Her position as head of the the gender desk at the African Union will help establish contacts with other African leaders.
FDC also intends to intensify their activities in South Africa, Tanzania, Rwanda, Sudan, the US, UK, EU and Japan. Neighbouring Kenya, however, does not play a pivotal role in Ugandan politics.