Former opposition Forum for Democratic Change, FDC party president, Col. Dr. Kiiza Besigye has announced that the party will continue engaging the two opposition candidates nominated for the Bugiri Municipality parliamentary seat, after pre-nomination engagements failed.
Speaking to the media in Kampala this morning, Besigye said the country should not expect free and fair elections, and that the opposition needed to unite and win the “Junta regime.”
FDC’s Eunice Namatende who was nominated on Wednesday, is competing with Justice Forum-JEEMA party president Asuman Basalirwa and NRM party candidate John Francis Oketcho.
But Besigye says it is not right, that JEEMA and FDC compete with each other, instead of unifying to compete against the ruling NRM party.
“Elections are not a competition between parties, it is a competition between parties and the state, NRM is the state. So whoever contests against NRM contests against the state. That is why it is important for all of us that are struggling for the democratization of state to act in a harmonious way” Besigye said.
Ms. Namatende and Mr. Basalirwa have both refused to step down, leaving the leading opposition party divided, with some supporting the Jeema president who is the party’s long time friend and others supporting the party candidate. Besigye recently stated that he would support the party candidate, something most people interpreted as betrayal by the colonel.
Today, members of FDC administration sat with Hon. Betty Nambooze and Hussein Kyanjo who were responsible for the negotiations between the two candidates.
According to Nambooze, also shadow minister for local government, the focus should not only be in Bugiri but other municipalities where opposition parties have candidates.
She says they tried to find a formula to bring the people of Bugiri to an understanding, but failed. Hon. Nambooze says they tried to field the candidate with a common face, but locals said they wanted their candidate too.
Hon. Kyanjo said they scheduled several meetings and spoke to the two candidates and their party leaders but failed to come to an understanding. Both candidates would later be nominated on Wednesday.
“Why can’t we agree like we did in Rukungiri? Today I am here to assure you that we may not agree ultimately, but we should never fail to discuss a matter as this, so we don’t lose credibility in the eyes of the public” Kyanjo advised.
As of now, the two parties will keep talking to ensure that one stands down for the other, or risk losing to the ruling NRM candidate by splitting the vote.