FDC’s Amuriat rules out co-operation with NRM
Angered by last year’s amendment of the Constitution that scrapped the presidential age limits, FDC president, Patrick Amuriat Oboi is not open for talks with the ruling NRM party.
Addressing a press conference to give an account of his first 100 days since taking over as FDC president, Amuriat said, much as he has sought to reach out to leaders of other political parties, he has found no reason to meet President Yoweri Museveni, the NRM chairman.
“No attempt was made to meet Mr. Yoweri Museveni the permanent Chairman of NRM due to his direct involvement in manipulating Members of Parliament to amend the constitution,” Amuriat said.
On December 20, 2017, a total of 317 MPs voted in favour of a bill to amend Article 102 (b) of the Constitution that set the age of 35 and 75 years as the lower and upper limit of presidential aspirants respectively.
The provision meant that the 73-year old Museveni would be ineligible for re-election in 2021.
The December amendments also pushed the election year ahead to 2023 owing to an amendment that extended the term of elected leaders by two years.
Amuriat’s other frustration is with NRM’s reluctance to accept an audit of the 2016 election results.
He has so far met a number of donors to highlight the alleged flaws that characterized the 2016 elections.
“The failure of government to implement recommended electoral reforms and the rushed and forceful amendment of the constitution were addressed to the country’s partners,” Amuriat said.
“Whereas we are open to dialogue, we wish to maintain our demand that this will only be based on the Audit of 2016 Presidential Election being on top of the agenda,” he added.
Amuriat boasted of having won the opposition party new members in addition to wooing back senior party members who had taken leave of party activities.
Among the new recruits is former Rwampara MP Vincent Kyamadidi who subscribed to NRM while in the ninth Parliament.
He worked with the ‘rebel’ NRM MPs group led by Lwemiyaga MP Theodore Ssekikubo till April 2013 when the group was subjected to disciplinary action.
He served a brief suspension as the ruling party took on a futile attempt to expel Ssekikubo, Muhammad Nsereko (Kampala Central), Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa East) and Barnabas Tinkasiimire (Buyaga West).
Also formally joining FDC is former Bugabula North MP Andrew Allen who served as a member of the Shadow cabinet in the previous Parliament.
Former Lugazi Municipality mayor John Baptist Asea Ozuma is also among the high profile politicians that Amuriat hopes to unveil soon.
“I am glad to report that the party has largely been stable since the President assumed office and we can confidently state that it is operating normally this far,” Amuriat said.
In keeping with the promise to enhance party cohesion, Amuriat has made attempts to reach out to former Party presidential candidates with a hope of bringing them on board to work for the good of the party.
He met his predecessor Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu twice on December 1 and 8, 2017 to discuss party stability.
“Both of us observed that given that the elections had just been concluded there was a need for further engagement. Gen Muntu informed me that he and his team had taken a decision to do countrywide consultations on what he viewed as the teething challenges affecting the Party before returning to discuss his findings with the party leadership,” Amuriat said.
“I understand these consultations are of a personal nature and was never an endorsement of the organs of the party. The Party therefore will not be bound by the outcomes of such consultations that were never sanctioned by the Party in the first place,”Amuriat said.
There are fears within the FDC ranks that in the consultations, Muntu is planning to start a new political party.
In his address, Amuriat gave an indication of a broken communication channel between him and Muntu.
“I will however continue to reach out to the former party President through respected third party individuals,” Amuriat said.
Muntu lost the FDC presidency to Amuriat at a hotly contested election held last November at the Mandela National stadium Namboole in Wakiso district.