By Paul Ssenabulya
It took Moses quite a number of years to bring to the Israelites out of the hands of oppression in Egypt to the promised land of Canan. Dr.Kiiza Besigye Uganda’s opposition strong hold and the founding father of the Forum for Democratic Change has been running against his former boss Yoweri Kaguta Museveni since 2001 and hasn’t yet made it to state house but has hope that one day God and the voters will answer his prayers.
The long journey of Besigye to freedom has been characterized with numerous arrests, detentions year in, year out since 2001 a nd 2006 elections which saw the revival of multi-party politics in the pearl of Africa through a referendum held on 28th July 2005 with a spice of term limit removal that caused mixed reactions in the 7th parliament and the elections were held on 23rd February 2006
Prior to the elections of 2006, Besigye was arrested on 14 November 2005 on allegations of treason, concealment of treason, and rape. The treason case included his alleged links to the rebel groups Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and People’s Redemption Army, and the rape charge referred to an incident in November 1997 allegedly involving the daughter of a friend. The arrest led to demonstrations and riots in Kampala and towns around the country. Pro Besigye protesters believed the charges were fabricated to stop Besigye from challenging Museveni.
The result of the election was in favor of Museveni who received 59 percent of the vote, Besigye took 37 percent. In the parliamentary elections the NRM won 213 of the 319 seats before the number got to 400+ in the current 9th parliament. This explains how Museveni treats his opponents.
President Yoweri Museveni seems to have used the same script in the 2011 elections which were held on 18th February 2011 and still he was re-elected for a 3rd elective term with 68.38%, having been in power since 1986. The NRM also won 263 of the 375 seats in parliament. Besigye got 26.01% and the rest of the candidates DP’s Norbert Mao, UPC’s Olala Otunu, Betti Kamya of Uganda Federal alliance, Abed Bwanika of PDP, Jaberi Bidandi Ssali of PPP, and Independent Samuel Lubega shared the rest of the remaining percentage.
Unlike the previous elections, the four party inter party cooperation (IPC) chairman Kiiza Besigye said before the results were announced that the opposition categorically rejects the outcome of the elections and warned that Uganda was ripe for an Egypt-style-revolt to oust Museveni. However, the protesters failed to amass in large numbers because Besigye did not believe in his own claim of sparking a revolution.
He however launched the walk to work protests in Kampala which were met with deadly resistances from police and other security agencies spraying tear gas and detaining some of the protesters. During the same chaos, Besigye almost lost his sight when a one Robert Alinaitwe sprayed pepper in his eyes only to be airlifted to Nairobi for treatment.
During this fourth season of Besigye in politics, he also stated it categorically clear that he would not stand for presidency again in 2016 if electoral reforms were not enacted and also if the Electoral Chairman then Eng Badru Kigundu was still at the helm of the electoral body. However, Doctor Kiiza Besigye didn’t live to his words and in 2016 he still contested even before his demands were put in place.
However, he changed the political game this time round after failing to be part of the TDA coalition which Mbabazi later scooped and in the elections held on 18th February 2016, Besigye got 35.61% ,Museveni 60.62% and the rest of the candidates Eng Joseph Mabirizi, Moreen Kyalya, Prof Balyamureeba, Dr. Biralo and Former Primae Minister and NRM Secretary General Amama Mbabazi and Abed Bwanika shared the remaining percentage.
Opposition candidates claimed that the elections were marred by wide spread fraud, voting irregularities, repeated arrest of opposition politicians and a climate of voter intimidation. The NRM party spokesperson stated that “It appears as if our message that Uganda should maintain its path of steady progress for all, and not risk an untried and untested opposition, has resonated with the majority of Ugandan voters.”. Unlike the previous elections, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party issued its own election results and one senior FDC official was quoted by Reuters as saying that their statistics ‘glaring discrepancies” with the government figures”
On 21 February 2016, Kiiza Besigye, who was under house arrest stated “I call upon all of you citizens to protest….The Only way to get out of this is to use the popular numbers that we have to make sure that the gunmen do not do what they are doing”. This was followed by tension in the city as Besigye beat the security mounted at his home and made to the city to swear in as the People’s president one day before the swearing in of Museveni. This saw him detained and charged with treason a case which has never been finished in court until now.
In Summary, the aftermath of the 2016 elections was marred with different opposition activities which included the Defiance prayers at Najjanankunbi, and in 2017 at the heels of the article 102B of the removal of age limit for presidential candidates (famously known as the Magyezi bill), the opposition launched campaigns dubbed Tojikwatako, Kojikwatako to stop the regime from amending this article which later came to pass with majority of the NRM legislators backing it.
It’s at this time after the amendment of article 102B of the constitution that opposition led by Dr. Kiiza Besigye got back to the drawing board and announced new plans to challenge government through new campaigns dubbed Tubalemesse, Kojikuteko and the recent one where he announced a Tsunami style of ousting Museveni before 2021. He made country wide tours with his FDC party clashing with police, getting arrested and smoked out radio stations in Kabale, Hoima, Jinja, Mubende and even in Northern Uganda and the NRM sole candidate of 2021 seems not moved by Besigye’s threats of ousting him.
With the new kid on the block of opposition Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu commonly known as Bobi wine, Besigye has been challenged to step aside for the new blood but seems not bothered at all. The two opposition figures Besigye and Bobi wine early this year announced a memorandum of understanding but if we are to by the look of things, People Power and Besigye’s people’s government are on different routes ahead of 2021 which has proved it right that the long time Museveni challenger is going to come back in 2021.
Despite Besigye’s claims that Museveni can never leave power through an election, and not giving alternative ways of ousting him, many believe he’s just saying this to discourage and pour cold water on Bobi wine’s plans of challenging Museveni. But information from the corridors of power clear state that the leader of the People’s Government is set to contest again for the 5th term which I have termed Season 5.
The Author is a Content Editor at Opera News