Besigye: We’re ready to drag Museveni out of power in 2019

POLITICS | Ugandans must not wait for 2021 to remove Museveni from power since the president does not believe in democratic change of power, instead they take action next year, Dr Kizza Besigye has said.

The former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) president, who was briefing the media on a wide range of issues —  including the festive season and the New Year for which he urged Ugandans who have to share with the needy — declared 2019 a “year of action,” urging all those opposed to Museveni’s rule to put aside their differences and defeat the NRM government.

“We are ready. 2019 is for action. The two years we have spent organising ourselves was not a wastage of time,” Besigye said, adding that Museveni and his NRM government were drawing attention to elections in two years to keep Ugandans waiting instead of drawing their markers.

Sendo Cleaners

Besigye, who was accompanied by several top politicians, including Democratic Party’s Betty Nambooze, said Museveni has always treated elections with disdain and boasted that “mere ballots” cannot remove him from power.

President Museveni, in power for 33 years, originally marketed his leadership on democratic principles, speaking strongly for the ideals of elections. In 1996, he organised the first presidential election since the contested 1980 poll that gave him the excuse to go to the bush and won convincingly against DP’s Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere.

However, five years later, Dr Besigye cut ranks with the file to challenge the trajectory that he accused Museveni of diverting toward against the principles for which they had gone to the bush.

And, after another belaboured re-election bid in 2006 that he touted as his last term in office after changing the Constitution to allow him run for a third term, Museveni adopted a different stance. He started belittling elections and democracy and advocating for the strongman syndrome instead.

Speaking during the Inter-Party Organisation for Dialogue summit ten days ago, Museveni said he is not about to leave power and told the Opposition to stop thinking of a transition.

“I hear people like Mao talking about transition; how they would like to sit in the audience and see Museveni handing over power. That is the most important thing for him. I do not think that is the most important,” Museveni said.

“So, the political class instead of talking about the destiny of Africa, you are talking about petty things — elections, who becomes who. That is why I have said if I still have strength, I will continue. This is my point of view– not to retire when the original issues of why Africa nearly perished have not been addressed. And you are just addressing small things– elections. The ones you are electing, you elect them to do what exactly?”

Dr Besigye feels such comments show that Museveni merely organises elections for political posturing, leaving those fighting for change of leadership to seek alternatives, citing “the same means with which he [Museveni’ came to power.”

He said the dialogue that some actors pushed but FDC boycotted was useless, insisting that Ugandans are captives in a military state where the only dialogue that makes sense is that whose agenda negotiates Museveni exit.

Despite belittling elections, Museveni started his preparations for 2021 in earnest when he armtwisted Parliament into scrapping the the age limit clause from the Constitution to allow him stand again when he is past 75.

The Electoral Commission has also since announced the electoral roadmap, a development Besigye said is a “strategy to divert us so that we relax on fighting him.”

“He wants us to start focusing on 2021elections so that he can be here for the next two years. We cannot allow this situation to continue while waiting for 2021. The earlier we remove him the better. We must remove him without giving him an opportunity to organise and rig another election. What makes him think that he should be here up to 2021 elections? He knows he did not come through elections,” he added.

‘My fight goes on’

Recently, there have been allegations that Besigye had announced he would not run for re-election in 2021. The claims hve come at a time Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, has emerged as an alternative political force with many of his supporters and those who oppose Besigye from within the Opposition urging him to cease ground for a new force.

But Besigye said the cause he started in 2001 is still very much on the road so he cannot just abandon the cart and walk sit back as this would be a betrayal of the cause and the trust Ugandans have put in him for nearly two decades now.

“If Museveni has not gone, it means that I’m not leaving the struggle. Why should I go away when the common enemy I came to fight is still in power?” he said, adding that the focus should not be on elections but how to remove Museveni.

The Opposition leader also addressed the issue of corruption that appears to be inherent in the ruling government, citing the recent naming of Museveni and his brother-in-law Sam Kutesa in a major bribery scandal at the United Nations involving a Chinese national.

Patrick Chi-Ping Ho was convicted by the US Southern District jury of offering bribes to African leaders, including Museveni and Kutesa who took Shs2 billion each disguised as gift donations. The government said the foreign affairs minister did not commit any crime in the bribe.

“We have always known that Uganda’s corruption starts at the top. This year has helped Ugandans get evidence that corruption starts with Museveni himself. I invite all Ugandans to get details of the case to know how terrible the people who claim to lead this country are,” he said.

He also spoke about security situations over the year, bemoaning the rampant crime and murder of high profile personalities.

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