Africa-Press – Uganda. Four-time presidential candidate, Dr Kizza Besigye, and his allies in six political parties yesterday unveiled a new political pressure group to expand the frontier in their fight to oust President Museveni, in power since 1986.
Named People’s Front for Transition (PFT), Dr Besigye said the outfit, a replica of the post-2016 election People’s Government that he superintended, galvanises broader political actors willing to remove Mr Museveni by means other than elections.
“We have tested all ways [to oust Museveni] and I am an expert [in this],” said Dr Besigye, a former personal physician to Mr Museveni, who stood for elections in 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016.
“We tried to vote [but] we all agreed that a vote [alone] will not take us anywhere. We are here to gather to fight outside the possibility of an election. Those who think that an election will take us anywhere can continue, but we are here to fight on our own,” he said.
This is not the first time that Dr Besigye is dismissing elections as workable way to take the incumbent out of power. After the 2011 elections, he vowed not to subject himself to a vote, only to make a U-turn and stand for elections in 2016 on the ticket of Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), a party he co-founded.
Upon losing that ballot, Dr Besigye and others formed the so-called People’s Government ostensibly as a pressure group, but critics said such a parallel political formation risked undermining and fracturing the mother FDC party from which it drew majority members and leadership.
Not much detail was yesterday provided about how the pressure group will work, but officials hinted that rallying the population to engage in peaceful civil disobedience, as was Walk-to-Work protests following the 2011 polls, is on the cards.
Dr Besigye noted that the challenges that President Museveni’s government presents to Ugandans and the opposition today, which they are confronting head-on, mirrors similar problems that undergirded the fight for independence: repression, poverty, ignorance and disease.
Fighting and surmounting the last three handicaps was a central promise by Obote when he received the instruments of power from departing British colonial masters, 59 years ago, as Uganda’s first executive prime minister.
There was no immediate government reaction to the Opposition re-launched pressure group on the eve of Uganda’s 59th independence anniversary, which will be observed tomorrow.
Uganda People Congress, Obote’s party that led Uganda to independence and governed the country twice (1962-1971, 1980-1985), is among the amalgam of parties constituting the new political formation christened PFT.
It was launched in Kampala yesterday at the offices of the Justice Forum or Jeema, a political party led by Bugiri Municipality Member of Parliament Asuman Basalirwa, and other subscribers include FDC, Uganda’s oldest surviving political party, the Democratic Party or DP, the Conservative Party (CP), People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Dr Besigye was named its leader while Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago and Ms Christine Akiria will deputise him to lead the “Red Card” crusade against Mr Museveni.
PFT spokesperson, Mr Wafula Oguttu, said the mandate of the Besigye-led People’s Government, of which he was a member, had lapsed but the new outfit will continue its unfinished work.
The former Leader of Opposition yesterday said that President Museveni’s behaviour in the early stages of the planned talks, initiated after the disputed 2016 elections, led to mutual mistrust and stymied progress.
This newspaper in 2017 broke the news, then denied by both the government and FDC, that Sweden was brokering possible dialogue between Mr Museveni and Dr Besigye and that the principals had agreed on 5-point issues for the negotiations.
“What collapsed the talks at the last minute,” Mr Wafula said yesterday in a confirmation of our 2017 reportage, “were words that were preferred in the documents. President Museveni wanted the elections reviewed while Dr Besigye wanted the elections audited. When this failed, the talks ended.”
The PFT, although billed more inclusive than its predecessor People’s Government, was not immediately joined by National Unity Platform (NUP), which commands the Opposition majority in Parliament, with Spokesman Joel Ssenyonyi suggesting that they may work with the formation without enlisting as members.
Mr Peter Walubiri, who leads a UPC faction, said at the launch of PFT that “the struggle to remove the dictator was discovered as early as 1986. I am happy that the struggle we started then is coming to a conclusion with this front”.
Mr Lubega Mukaaku, a member of a DP splinter group, said he joined the new pressure team to fight for the “suffering people” of Uganda and the country.