By Our Reporter
The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) Party President has accused former Party President, Dr. Kizza Besigye of building a parallel power center within the Party thus fueling conflicts.
Patrick Oboi Amuriat, made the allegations in a press statement dated 19th July, 2023 where he outlined sources of the current conflicts dogging the Party.
“For any organization to strive there is a need to have one central command. Today the FDC finds herself having two competing centers of power, one residing in No. 6 Katonga road and the other at Najjanankumbi. Both these centers of power are fighting for the same political space. There is a need to harmonize the relationship between the two, Amuriat says in his statement.
Katonga road is where Besigye’s office is located and is the same place where he addressed a press conference yesterday, 19th July, 2023 accompanied by Kampala Lord Mayor, Elias Lukwago.
FULL STATEMENT VERBATIM
OFFICE OF PRESIDENT
19th July, 2023
Colleagues FDC Leaders,
Members of the FDC,
Members of the fourth Estate,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
This press briefing is going to be both a personal and an FDC official statement, given the fact that in the recent past my person, that of the Secretary General, Hon. Nathan Nandala Mafabi and the person of FDC have come under severe and savage attack from a section of our leaders, meticulously put together with the main objective of desecrating the party and turning it into a personal organization that can be used for personal political gain through unholy alliances.
I have made a personal contribution towards making my country a better place for all, by my participation in mainstream politics for the past nearly 3 decades. Throughout my political career I’ve never belonged to the NRM/NRA or its successor NRMO. I have participated in every national election as a candidate since the Constituent Assembly elections in 1994 and also as an active team member for the late Dr. Paul Kawanga Semwogerere in 1996 and for Dr. Kizza Besigye from 2001-2016 Presidential elections. In 2016 elections in particular, I was appointed by Dr. Kizza Besigye as his National Field Coordinator which involves traversing the entire country in an election we convincingly won.
Together with Hon. Nathan Nandala Mafabi and others we founded the FDC having belonged to both the Reform Agenda and PAFO and have consistently served our party.
CURRENT IMPASSE IN FDC
As the FDC, we recognize and accept that within the environment we work , it is natural to have divergent views and that such diversity is common in any organization similar to FDC, and it often leads to healthy internal discussions, engagements and better decision-making.
Over the past years, the FDC has faced many challenges that no other political party has endured but we have always found various avenues for resolving internal disagreements, and these channels remain open.
I assumed my role as Party President amidst challenges including the biggest departure this party has ever seen, the then Party President and the Secretary General together with a host of senior leaders left to form a new political party. This situation was adequately dealt with through team and hard work and we’ve since moved on as a stronger party.
I am grateful for the members who stood by us throughout this period. Unfortunately, some individuals who are ardent opponents of the current leadership chose to remain within our ranks but continued to undermine us, waiting for any opportunity to strike. This time seems to present such an opportunity.
Despite all this, we have persevered on this long journey and our capacity has been tested time and again, by new political waves but we have emerged even stronger each time.
To all the members of the FDC who are dissatisfied and have concerns about the leadership and how the party is run, we encourage you to make use of the available avenues outlined within the FDC constitution to address your grievances. And in any case we are a public institution, and we abide by the supreme law of our land.
SOURCES OF CONFLICT
1. Two Centers of Power:
In 2012 when our founding father decided to leave the leadership of FDC, it was generally accepted that there was a need to fight the dictator leading a cruel junta using two prongs that is Activism / Defiance and elections. The formation of the Peoples Government (PG) whose founding I was part of was meant to reclaim our victory of 2016 using civil disobedience.
After a number of years of closely working together today there is a contestation on whether elections are useful in ousting the Museveni dictatorship with PG declaring war on elections through the ‘Transition Now. No elections’ campaign. This approach conflicts with Article 12 of the FDC constitution which commands members to register and vote and to canvass for votes. Ironically the Deputy President of the PG who also doubles as the Lord Mayor of Kampala, Elias Lukwago continues to hold an elective office. I see this as the greatest hypocrisy amongst some of our colleagues who have chosen to preach water but drink wine. The FDC maintains that both Elections and Activism are useful and will be used hand in hand in our bid to bring down the dictatorship in Uganda.
For any organization to strive there is a need to have one central command. Today the FDC finds herself having two competing centers of power, one residing in No. 6 Katonga road and the other at Najjanankumbi. Both these centers of power are fighting for the same political space. There is a need to harmonize the relationship between the two.
Financing for the 2021 Elections:
I was FDC presidential flag bearer in 2021 General elections mainly in defense of my Party. I took a great risk and made a great sacrifice even if I had the option of running and winning as Member of Parliament. We had piled pressure on Dr. Besigye who had earlier declined to run for a fifth time. I am sure there were better prepared members of FDC to run in my place, but I firmly believe that they didn’t for the reason of political preservation which is a natural political phenomenon. I was abandoned by people I worked with and for in many years. I run a lone campaign supported by a few fearless and committed comrades and I wish to thank them for standing above self-interest.
I wish to observe that most of the proponents of the Nsambya Consultation Meeting who sat at the high table not only never appeared at my campaign or that of our other candidates, but also campaigned for opponents of our flag bearers. This is an act of hostility to the party for which it’s never too late to proceed under our constitution.
Funding for the 2021 elections was one of the greatest challenges of the campaign and election processes. A resolution to borrow from friendly sources without interest was passed by both the Working Committee and NEC chaired by my then deputy Owek. Joyce Naboosa Sebugwawo. To the best of my knowledge a borrowing was made and accountability for all funds spent made to the first Working Committee and NEC preceding the 2021 general elections. The Audited accounts have since been presented to the National Council and the Electoral Commission. Public disclosure of some sources of funds for the campaigns is not possible because throughout our life as a party we have maintained a policy where sources of funding that don’t wish to be disclosed are kept confidential.
This is meant to protect our funders from wanton attacks by the junta.
The allegation of fund received from hostile groups by the party was first made by our founding President in 2020. He claimed that he had intelligence information that money had been received by the party from the Museveni establishment. It took us over two years to try to quietly resolve this matter without much success.
These accusations came to public light during the 15th National Council meeting held on 25th- 26th November, 2022 raised by our founder President Dr. Kizza Besigye. The acrimony arising from the debate moved the Council to resolve to have an Elders Reconciliation Committee set up using the procedures of the party.
The main accuser and the accused and other top leaders of the party appeared before the Committee. It was my expectation that well-meaning members of the party would wait for the Elders Committee report. What happened in Nsambya is a case of blackmail, dishonesty coupled with fear of international elections.
The meeting held in Nsambya once again raised the same accusations with just a few days to the 16th National Council meeting that shall be held on the 28th July, 2023. Our accusers offer no new evidence of foul conduct.
We have been accused not once or twice, we are subject of endless attacks on allegations being handled by the Elders Committee. The Nsambya Consultation Meeting was one way meant to subvert the report of the Elders Reconciliation Committee which is an act of sacrilege against the National Council and by default all the other organs of the party.
I wish to state, for the record, we have names built over time and families and friends that are hurting over these unending accusations.
For the record too the party has never got money from Museveni’s regime as we are accused of. The only money that the party receives from GoU through the National Electoral Commission is legal and has always been fully accounted for.
We understand the tension within the FDC party over the leadership positions in the impending internal elections and the interests at stake. It’s only morally right to accuse someone and substantiate the accusations to prove it.
Alongside this accusation is a reckless statement made by the Hon. Ibrahim Ssemuju suggesting that the Party is at the verge of being taken to Museveni by the Secretary General just like leaders DP and UPC was. Hon. Ssemuju has not been in the Party long enough to have felt the amount of sacrifice most in the current leadership endured to found and sustain it probably because he only joined it a few years ago. Even as a practicing journalist he seemed not to take note of the rough journey the current leadership has taken to bring this party to where it is now. He can be forgiven because he still has a lot to learn about our history. I assure all members of FDC that under my FDC will never be taken over by any political party least of all NRMO.
- Internal Elections:
NEC sitting on 12th May 2023 approved an election roadmap and guidelines were later approved. This set in motion an election process that will be run independently by our Party Electoral Commission. NEC sitting on 16th June 2023 debated a possible extension of actual elections and upon a proposal moved by Virginia Mugenyi the election roadmap was extended to allow for time to resolve internal disputes. The election roadmap is now being implemented and elections in the villages will commence on Friday 21st July, 2023. I call upon all our members to turn up to their villages to vote or be voted.
A new accusation by Hon. Ssemuju is that ISO is compiling the FDC party register which is an impossibility. Party registers a properly chosen by our leaders in the districts. As per the party Constitution, Article 15, every party member shall register at their village which is the party branch and the nucleus of the party.
Therefore, the party registers are at every village and we appeal to the party members to renew their membership by registering or updating their details in the registers.
We are all duty bound to protect the name of the party and any allegations labelled against any party leaders should be truthful and provable.
The FDC party is implementing the road map to elect new leaders from the village Upto the National delegate’s conference who shall elect the new NEC members in November, 2023.
We shall subject ourselves to the internal processes without mudslinging any leader be it an opponent.
THE PROPONENTS OF ATTACK ON FDC
I take note of the threats by my Deputy Elias Lukwago who is mobilizing for violence during this is something new he intends to introduce a culture foreign to FDC. I appeal to my comrades to learn the new culture to which he was ushered about 2 years ago.
I have took exception to the alleged dealings between Lord Mayor Lukwago with Gen. Salim Saleh. When I raised this matter with him, he got angry, personal and almost physical. He told me that this matter was between him and Gen. Saleh and I should keep off it.
As Deputy President coming from Buganda he is expected to provide leadership in the running of party programs in the region. Unfortunately he has been reluctant and resisted implementation of activities party activities in Buganda. He also not receptive to activism in the City of Kampala, especially his given vantage position as Lord Mayor of Kampala.
Our Spokesperson has misused his office as a platform to attack a party that he has failed to keep the image of the party and deserves disciplinary treatment.
We have received information about the financing of Nsambya meeting from suspicious sources. Some of the people who claim to have financed the meeting have never contributed a penny to the party.
We call for calm amongst the FDC party members, this is our party for which we have invested our youthful energies and we shall never sell it to anyone at any amount of billions as accused.
With humility, we implore you to build strong grass root structures on which the present and future leaders of our Party shall stand.
Before you hang us, hear us! We humbly appeal to our comrades who have chosen to accuse us, don’t be the judges in your case
With the accusations on our heads, we shall be coming to you the party members in your respective localities to defend ourselves.
We hope we shall be afforded an opportunity to be heard and you judge us after a fair hearing.
In conclusion, we are well aware of both our friends and adversaries. My view is that there are political mercenaries planted to destroy the FDC and this will never happen.
We will cherish and support our friends, while continuing to fight against thus dictatorship regime.
For God and my country
One Uganda One people.
Patrick Oboi Amuriat