Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The decision by Dr. Kiiza Besigye not to run for presidency in the 2021 general election is the biggest test for the opposition Forum for Democratic Change-FDC party, the Democratic Party President general Norbert Mao has observed.
The four time presidential candidate and former FDC president announced his decision not to offer himself for elections on Wednesday afternoon.
Besigye instead said he will concentrate on his unspecified plan “B” to bring an end to President Yoweri Museveni’s grip on power for over three decades.
Mao says Besigye has been a formidable force in challenging Museveni’s rule and that next year’s election is going to be the biggest test for FDC.
He says that even though nature harbors a vacuum, Besigye leaves a vacuum that can never be filled.
However, Michael Mabikke, the Social Democratic Party Leader who is part of the DP block that crossed over to the budding National Unity Platform (NUP) last week doesn’t share Mao’s view.
According to Mabikke, it was time for Besigye to give way for fresh blood and new ideas.
Mabikke argues that even though Besigye is the only opposition candidate to garner over 30% of the total vote in a presidential election, it is misleading to think he is the only hope for the opposition.
He cites the 27% garnered by Dr. Paul Kawanga Semwogerere in 1996 as proof that Besigye is not a special candidate.
During his speech, Besigye noted that it is unrealistic to expect president Museveni to hand over power through the ballot.
Besigye has often called on Ugandans to oust the regime through a popular uprising similar to the Arab spring revolutions in North Africa and Middle East.
Commenting on this statement, Mao says that even though it may be possible to defeat Museveni at the ballot through a well-organized challenge, it may not be possible for him to hand over power.
Mabikke is confident of the opposition in Uganda winning at the ballot. He cites several cases in Africa where autocrats have been ousted through the ballot including in Gambia.
However, Observer columnist Yusuf Serunkuma says the political history in the countries where dictators have been removed through the ballot is different from the situation in countries like Uganda, Rwanda or Zimbabwe.
He notes that the breed of autocrats in countries like Uganda is able to decide how to manipulate elections so the electorate does not matter.
He says that with or without Besigye or NUP presidential hopeful Robert Kyagulanyi on the ballot, Museveni will still successfully manipulate the polls.