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Five reasons why Besigye’s new opposition alliance is headed for failure

Edris Kiggundu
Besigye speaking at the launch of People’s Front for Transition

Yesterday amidst fanfare and tough talk, some of the leading lights of the opposition led by former FDC president, Dr Kizza Besigye came together and formed a pressure group termed; People’s Front for Transition (PFT).

According to the advocates of the pressure group’s key objective is to dislodge President Museveni from power without using the avenue of elections.

At the launch, Besigye said: “We have tested all ways of ousting Museveni and I am an expert on this. We tried to vote but we all agreed that a vote will not take us anywhere. We are here to gather outside the possibility of an election. Those who think that an election will take us anywhere can continue…”

It is still early days but from the onset, PFT will have to overcome several hurdles if it is to have any impact on Uganda’s political landscape. Here are five challenges that await the new pressure group.

NUP absence

The absence of the National Unity Platform from the pressure group could be its biggest undoing. NUP is currently the biggest opposition party and enjoys massive support in Buganda and Busoga sub regions.

Sources have told Nile Post that there were back and forth efforts to bring NUP on board but in the end, no agreement was reached.

At the very least, some people could see the pressure group as a platform being used by some people to fight NUP.

Others have said the new pressure group is a collection of people who in one way or another have an axe to grind with NUP.

NUP’s absence and that of other political players like DP and ANT is one of the sore points.

Quality of membership

Without NUP, ANT and DP on board, the membership of the alliance is a bit light weight.

Justice Forum (JEEMA) and Conservative Party still don’t have considerable support on the ground while People’s Progressive Party (PPP), is ‘there, there’, colloquially speaking.

Secondly, the Ken Lukyamuzi of today is a far cry from the one who would move the crowd with “Ludicha”.

So much water has passed under the bridge.

Relatedly, some of the political actors associated with the pressure group have a history of political mercantilism. Today they profess to be die hard supporters of Party X, tomorrow they are in bed with Party Y.

These include people like Michael Mabikke and Lubega Mukaaku.

In a space of less than ten years, Mabikke, the former Makindye East MP, has been a member of DP, president of SDP, supporter of Go Forward, member of DP block, supporter of NUP and is now an advocate of PFT.

How reliable are such people and to what extent can one build a foundation of political change on the shoulders of people whose word can never be trusted? Only time will tell.

FDC’s dominance

While it is not FDC’s problem that for a long time it dominated the opposition space, some players have not always taken it well. For years, FDC and DP wrangled over this perceived dominance and accused the Najjanankumbi based party of trying to ‘suffocate.

Even previous opposition alliances were dominated by FDC and this was always a sticky issue.

Remember what led to the disintegration of The Democratic Alliance (TDA) in the run up to the 2016 elections?

This ‘old problem’ has been carried over to PFT and it will not be surprising to hear voices of discontent

Such is the dominance of FDC in the pressure group that its leader, Dr Kizza Besigye, the deputy national chairman, Erias Lukwago and the spokesperson, Wafula Oguttu all belong to FDC.

Intrigue, fights and NRM infiltration

As long as there is a feeling, real or perceived, that one party wants to dominate others in the pressure group, chances of working harmoniously together will be slim. It could also lead to fights and jostling. This has been witnessed in previous alliances especially in TDA.

Very soon, don’t be shocked if some of the political actors call a press conference to denounce decisions taken by their colleagues.

The fights will definitely create an avenue for the NRM to infiltrate PFT, weakening it further.

Same script

If you have followed Ugandan politics, the script . The launch of PFT mirrors the launch of previous pressure groups like Inter Party Coalition, The Democratic Alliance, United Forces for Change, Activists for Change, Suubi 2011, Truth and Justice and many others.

All have been formed with a singular objective: To remove Museveni from power and thereafter institute a democratic order that works for all. They have been formed amidst pomp and vigour.

“We are ready to die fighting for democracy,” “Kiggwa Leero,” “Teri Kuzikiza..etc..

So far no pressure group has achieved the key objective which is why they must keep on fighting.

Yet the main undoing of the pressure groups has been disunity and failure to stick to the agreed upon plan.

Before long political fatigue will set in, the 2026 election season will beckon and some politicians will start angling for positions.

If the pressure group holds no relevance to their fortunes, some will jump ship and that will be that.

By Samson Kasumba

Ugandan Pastor, News Anchor and TV Host