Uganda: Race for FDC Top Job Resumes

Monday, October 23rd, 2017 - Resume

Photo: Yahudu Kitunzi/Daily Monitor

Winfred Kiiza, the leader of the opposition in parliament, centre, struggles to control tears as she engages a police officer in Mbale after police officers fired teargas to disperse an age limit rally.

The five-man presidential race for the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Uganda’s biggest opposition party, has resumed after a weeklong break.

Candidates are traversing different parts of the country in search of votes while at the same time spreading the gospel against a draft legislation proposing the lifting of the constitutional presidential age limits.

The candidates, Maj Gen (rtd) Mugisha Muntu, Patrick Amuriat Oboi, Moses Byamugisha, Mubarak Munyagwa and Dan Matsiko had taken a break off the campaign trail to join fellow opposition members in the campaign against the amendment of Article 102 (b) of the Constitution.

Muntu and Amuriat are supposed to be in the West while Byamugisha is currently in Kalangala. By press time, Amuriat was, however, still being held by police in the western district of Rukungiri following his arrest, along with senior FDC members Dr Kizza Besigye and Ingrid Turinawe, on Thursday evening.

Party electoral commission chairman Dan Mugarura told The Observer that they are using every available opportunity to tell the masses about the dangers of lifting the presidential age limit, and that their party presidential campaigns offer a good platform.

“The party position is that we are moving against the lifting of the age limit. So, anybody who subscribes to FDC should always propagate that stand. The party position is togikwatako (don’t touch it) and we expect them to say togikwatako during their campaigns. If they say “gikwateko” (touch it), then they are not propagating a party position,” Mugarura said.

Igara West legislator Raphael Magezi two weeks ago tabled the constitutional amendment bill that seeks to lift the lower (35) and upper (75) age limits required for one to run for president, a move that has been vehemently opposed by various sections of Ugandans and the opposition.

It is regarded as a ploy to give President Museveni an avenue to rule for life even after 31 years in power. Police and supporters of Dr Besigye, were on Wednesday engaged in running battles in Rukungiri where live bullets and tear gas were fired to stop an opposition rally called to rally support against the age limit push.

One person was reported dead and several injured in the shooting. Police said they expected FDC presidential candidate Patrick Amuriat Oboi to meet 12 party delegates on his campaign instead of holding the rally.

Oboi, who was the first candidate to heed to the party’s call, has had meetings with delegates donning the anti-age limit red ribbons on their heads. On several occasions, he has come into confrontations with the police.

Police says they will not allow FDC candidates to deviate from what they describe in the letters announcing their internal campaign meetings.

According to the Public Order Management Act, anyone organising a public gathering should notify police, clearly describing in a letter what the gathering is about at least three days before the fact.

Asan Kasingye, the police spokesman, said in a statement on Wednesday that the notification letters FDC writes only indicate presidential campaigns, and not age limit consultation rallies.

But FDC spokesman, Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, told The Observer that everything was clearly indicated in the letter the party wrote to police.

“The party wrote to the IGP and informed him that the candidates will be meeting the delegates and also hold rallies in different areas to popularise the party,” Ssemujju said.

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