Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Democratic Party has threatened to reprimand party leaders and supporters backing rival candidates against their presidential candidate and president general, Norbert Mao. This comes amidst sharp division in Uganda’s oldest political party over Mao’s candidature.
It follows a decision by some party members including seniors to support the National Unity Platform-NUP presidential candidate, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu against the DP president. The latest to abandon Mao is Fred Mukasa Mbidde, the DP National Vice President.
He openly declared his support for Kyagulanyi during the official launch for his bid for the Nyendo Mukungwe Masaka City division parliamentary seat. Mbidde, who seeks to unseat Matthias Mpuuga claimed that he held a meeting with Mao where they agreed to take parallel positions on the choice of the presidential candidate, adding that he had opted to go with Kyagulangyi, the ‘new kid on the block’.
He told his excited electorate that he decided to support Kyagulanyi after observing that he is the most popular and better-placed candidate to end the National Resistance Movement’s 35-year rule under Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. Now, DP has issued an official statement distancing itself from Mbidde’s utterances describing them as untrue and that they must be treated with the utmost contempt.
“The president of the democratic party cannot endorse support for another party’s candidate when he is a presidential flag bearer in the general elections. In the same manner Hon. Mbidde wouldn’t endorse support for Mpuuga by agreeing with members of his team to support his rival,” the statement reads in part.
Okoler Opio Lo Amanu, the DP Spokesperson notes that it is not proper for party leaders to publicly denounce the official party position, which they also assented to. He says that such actions amount to indiscipline and are punishable within the party constitution.
Mbidde joins Mary Babirye Kabanda, the DP national party treasurer and Masaka Woman Member of Parliament who also denounced Mao’s candidature and urged her voters to support Kyagulanyi for the top office and DP flag candidates at other levels.
Other DP members opposed to Mao’s candidature are Robina Ssentongo, the Kyotera Woman MP, and Nakaseke South Member of Parliament, Paul Lutamaguzi. These are also associating with NUP and the people power movement to an extent of adding its symbols on their campaign posters.
Lutamuguzi defends himself saying that declared his support for Kyagulanyi even before Mao went for the presidential nominations despite being a DP cardholder. He laughs at other DP leaders who are now announcing support for Kyagulanyi, saying they are being compelled by political pressure.
Although the DP constitution bars members from supporting rival candidates, Lutamuguzi notes that these are not the times to talk about constitutions because they are looking at the bigger picture of unseating Museveni.
Earlier this year, some DP members fell out and crossed to Uganda’s youngest political party after disagreeing on their support for Kyagulanyi’s presidential bid. DP leaders are not strange to supporting rival candidates.
In 2011, some DP members mainly leaders from the central region formed a pressure group dubbed Suubi to support FDC’s Kiiza Besigye over Norbert Mao. In 2001, DP officially supported reform agenda’s Kiiza Besigye while in 2016 they rallied behind, John Patrick Amama Mbabazi under a coalition, dubbed Go Forward.