Veteran opposition leader Dr Kizza Besigye has spoken out on calls to rally behind Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine in the 2021 presidential election.
Days ago, Besigye announced he would not contest for Uganda’s top seat for a fifth time in a row.
His party Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) is expected to choose between chairman Wasswa Birigwa and president Patrick Oboi Amuriat for a 2021 presidential flag bearer.
Since announcing he would not challenge incumbent President Yoweri Museveni for the first time in two decades, some have called on Besigye to back Bobi Wine.
When this question came up during August 20’s NTV on the Spot, Besigye said: “I can tell you without the slightest fear of contradiction that I will support all candidates that advocate to the people of Uganda the urgency of liberation.”
Although talks for a joint opposition force, with a single candidate, have gone on for months, Besigye didn’t specify who he would back now that he is out of the presidential race.
Naturally, he is expected to rally behind his party’s candidate. Nonetheless, Besigye underscored the importance of a united opposition.
“It’s important, especially for platforms that are serious about causing change in Uganda, to have a very intense direct conversation on strategy because if we are pulling in different directions, it undermines the connectivity,” he said.
“Unity among people with vested interest is not easy to achieve. If we are united, we can have change in one week.”
By choosing to pull out of next year’s presidential election (which he called Plan A), Besigye told FDC supporters he would pursue plan B.
He believes elections can never bring the the change he has fought for for decades.
“We can only have a free and fair election if this junta goes off and the country is reset in some form or manner structurally so that we have institutions that are independent but also, so that some people can have some sense of security.”
But some people thought Besigye had bowed out of the presidential race because he was afraid of being embarrassed by Bobi Wine whose star some pundits say is rising among central region urban youths.
The four-time presidential candidate says he has “no intention of persuading Ugandans about what it is that advised my departure beyond what I have said” because “everyone is entitled to their opinion.”
“What I continue to dwell on is that this is not about me, it will never be and it will be extremely wrong missing the point thinking that this is about Kyagulanyi or any of us: this is about everybody,” he explained.
“This [liberation] is not a Besigye problem; this is an existential problem for this country. There is absolutely no way we are going to enjoy this beautiful weather, land and water if we have no capacity to claim and defend our country.”
On calls that the old guard should quit the stage for the young turks, Besigye urged caution.
“If the young people are all about wiping out the old and taking over because it’s their time, is it okay for [first son] Muhoozi [Kainerugaba] to take over because he is a young person?”