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Gen Muntu abandons FDC peace sign for watch

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POLITICS | Gen Mugisha Muntu and his loyalists within Opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) have quit the party, ending years of simmering political schism at the Najjanakumbi-based political organisation.

With a tinge of comical effect twirled in, Muntu’s handlers announced the decision to quit the biggest opposition party in the country with a wrong date for a supposed scheduled news briefing.

As the news spread across the country like wild bush fire, Muntu tried to downplay it, claiming the announcement was prematurely and carelessly released. Sources say his handlers had publicised the decision shortly before the meeting with FDC president Patrick Amuriat had ended.

“Following our nationwide consultations that were held between January 15 and September 7, today I held a meeting with Amuriat to discuss our findings and resolutions. I hereby would like to inform the country of our decision to leave the FDC with immediate effect,” Muntu said.

It is understood that among the top political figures aboard the ship Gen Muntu is navigating to the Ugandan political front line include Arua Municipality MP Kassiano Wadri, former Bukhonzo East MP Yokasi Bihande and Alice Alaso.

It is not yet clear if the ship will make some stopovers at ports to pick interested politicians or if those like former Leader of Opposition in Parliament Winnie Kiiza are rowing smaller boats to catch up with the ship.

Others like like Paul Mwiru (Jinja East), Abdu Katuntu (Bugweri County), Cecilia Ogwal (Dokolo Woman) are also either rowing smaller boats or at some shores waiting for the ship.

However, what is clear is that forming a new party means courting many into the fold, and Kyaddondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, is currently one of the biggest attractions for the upcoming political party.

Armed with a watch as their navigator (political symbol), Admiral Muntu has, as expected, made it clear that Dr Kizza Besigye’s continued dominance and shadowing FDC party affairs was the major point of divergence.

Muntu accuses FDC of sidelining moderates and those who are not open to defiance approach of the party as well as the accusation his allies within the party have had to deal with over the years.

Inside the divergence

In a 10-page document of consultation that Gen Muntu and co. were armed with during their meeting with Amuriat in Kampala on Tuesday, the former FDC president explained that his consultation was decided upon after losing the FDC presidency to Amuriat in 2017.

The document captures various points of divergence that the nationwide consultation gathered, top of which is the question of Dr Besigye’s continued role in FDC. The consultation said there was no sign that Besigye would relinquish the party leadership, especially in being flag bearer in presidential elections.

It also said Muntu and his followers were constantly suspected of being “moles” and treated with disdain by young Turks.

The consultation also sought to answer the “which way FDC” question after Muntu lost to Amuriat’s slogan of defiance, claiming he was against the approach.

Hours after the initial announcement, Gen Muntu released a statement explaining why he had decided to sail his way.

“The current party leadership needs to be given the opportunity to pursue their agenda untethered by the constant worry of sabotage or suspicion,” he said.

“Many of our people are frustrated, either with the way things are being run by the current leadership or with the way things were being ran under mine. The purpose of pointing this out is not to apportion blame, but to simply articulate what most, if not all of us know for a fact.”

Gen Muntu, the longest serving army commander in the post-NRA era and arguably the soldier President Museveni most trusted, retired from the military in 2000 after he was dropped from the command.

He was offered a ministerial position, which he declined and walked straight into Opposition politics of the Reform Agenda pressure group that birthed FDC in December 2004.

After eight years as mobiliser, Muntu defeated Nandala Mafabi and Geoffrey Ekenya in a highly charged FDC presidential poll to succeed Dr Besigye. But he couldn’t gain a second chance at leadership of the party as Amuriat defeated him in November 2017.

Against defiance

Muntu says when the party delegates chose the defiance agenda by voting Amuriat, he conceded and recognised that the election was free and fair.

“However, the implication of this victory, was that those of us who feel very strongly that the party should be focused on a different path were faced with two choices: we could either engage in disruptive politicking within the party, with the view of compromising the new leadership’s agenda or we could engage in constructive consultations with them with the view of finding out if there is space for us to not just exist within the party, but also continue to do the things we believe should be done,” he said.

In a statement later, Amuriat said the earlier meeting with Muntu and his group agreed that FDC has remained true to its promises, pledges and compact with the people of Uganda to offer an alternative leadership that espouses the dignity of the human person, merit-based leadership, social justice and equal opportunity to every Ugandan.

“At the time of conclusion of our meeting, our colleagues and my team had not had a point of casual or fundamental disagreement. We agreed that FDC institutions will scrutinise their findings and formally report back to Gen Muntu,” he said.

But there won’t be reporting back to Gen Muntu as his ship has sailed.

Former Makerere University lecturer Prof Aaron Mukwaya said Gen Muntu’s announcement has been long overdue.

“Reconciling conflicting ideologies is a daunting task. The November election for the FDC presidency left a clear writing on the wall to the effect that a third force was in the offing,” Prof Mukwaya said.

He said that FDC, just like the ruling party, seems to have been built on the strongman syndrome, making it difficult for anyone else to emerge within the party to replace Dr Besigye.

The FDC spokesperson Ssemujju Nganda when contacted for a comment feigned ignorance about the development and referred this reporter to the FDC president Amuriat.

“I am just returning from abroad. I know nothing about the developments and cannot comment on what I do not know,” Ssemujju said.

Paul Kawangusi, a former MP aspirant for Jinja Municipality West constituency, accused Gen Muntu of being a bad loser.

“When Muntu defeated Nandala Mafabi, the latter swallowed a pin and accepted to remain in the party, but when Muntu lost to Amuriat, he went haywire. But it is now time for Muntu to realise that he’s even less popular than Amama Mbabazi on ballot paper,” Kawangusi said.

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