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FDC members reflect on thorny 15-year political journey

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Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Members of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change-FDC party expressed mixed feelings on the achievements of the party which started 15 years ago.

The idea of forming the party was hatched in South Africa where Dr Kizza Besigye had been exiled after the 2001 general election.

Proscovia Salaamu Musumba, who was a National Coordinator at the party’s infancy recalls the forces that merged to give life to the idea, among them; Reform Agenda, the Parliamentary Advocacy Forum-PAFO, and the National Democratic Forum.

Dr Besigye, Chapa Karuhanga and Augustine Ruzindana were the key champions of the idea, which was immediately embraced by different political actors, and later attracted members from the Democratic Party and Uganda People’s Congress. Today, FDC has become the strongest opposition party, a position that was previously enjoyed by DP.

While celebrating 15 years at a function held at Mandela National Stadium, Namboole, on Monday, members looked back at the journey which, according to them, brings memories of agony and ecstasy. They stressed that their journey is characterized by thorns, creepers, valleys, and mountains formed by the brutality meted on them by the ruling government.

Musumba says that at first, the leaders thought of joining the existing parties but later decided to come up with a fresh organization that could have no political stain. She highlights that their primary objective of FDC was to uproot President Yoweri Museveni who was accused of swaying from the ideas which forced him to join the bush war.

Dr Besigye, the founding president who has contested for the highest office four times so far, says that although they are yet to attain their main objective, the trail shows a lot of achievements attained as a party.

Besigye adds that the freedoms largely enjoyed by Ugandans today have come from the pressure FDC and its leadership have put on the government.

By adopting a slogan of one Uganda, one people, Elias Lukwago, one of the opposition leaders, notes that FDC changed Uganda’s politics from the politics of religion and ethnicity, which was grounded in the first political parties like UPC, DP and Kabaka Yekka.

Wasswa Biriggwa, the party’s National Chairperson notes that as FDC celebrates 15 years, it is high time that they thought out a new strategy for a national recruitment of members as well as ensuring that they have candidates for every political position.

“It is on this ground that the national executive committee has resolved that FDC will contest in the forthcoming election (2021 general election). we are going to mobilize a winning team and uproot the bus (NRM) from the grassroots,” says Biriggwa.

During the same function, party members paid a tribute to their founding fathers; Sam Kalegga Njuba and Sulaiman Kiggundu as well as friends who have deserted the party, joining the ruling government, in protest of his dominance of FDC affairs.

However, Besigye rebuked them saying that FDC has always had regular uncontested internal elections for the members to decide their leaders. The self-proclaimed people’s president says that nonetheless, he has never asserted that he must hold any leadership position.

Amid the accusations, the party members including president Patrick Oboi Amuriat only see Besigye as their role model. Amuriat says for the last 15 years Besigye has given his all including his life towards FDC and the big objective of unseating President Museveni.

Musumba in the same direction notes that the talks have been coined by several saboteurs whom the party has successfully thrown out.

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