Friday, April 16, 2010

Besigye 84%, Muntu 16%

KAMPALA - Forum for Democratic Change president Kizza Besigye yesterday trounced former army commander Mugisha Muntu in the race to determine the FDC presidential flag bearer for the 2011 general elections.

Dr Besigye polled 728 (84.2 per cent) votes against Maj. Gen. Muntu’s 115 (15.8 per cent) at the poll held at Namboole Stadium in Wakiso.

The party’s electoral commission chairman, Mr Dan Mugarura, announced Dr Besigye winner at about 5:35pm, sending delegates into a frenzy of excitement. Gen. Muntu conceded defeat and promised to rally behind Dr Besigye.  “The delegates have voted the way they want and I will respect their decision,” Gen. Muntu said. “We have planted seeds of democracy in this party and I am sure that the generation that will follow us will reap from these seeds we have planted.”

He said the party was ready to take power come 2011 but had to steer clear of the temptations of abusing authority akin to that of the current government. “I would like to appeal to Dr Besigye; you were there (in the bush). You saw what happened. You shouldn’t lose touch,” Gen. Muntu said as the delegates clapped.

The poll followed a passionate last minute address by both candidates, each trying to sway the vote in his favour. Delivering his acceptance speech, Dr Besigye thanked the delegates for entrusting him with the mandate to represent the party in the 2011 elections and promised to work for the party’s victory against the ruling NRM party. “I am happy that you have given me that resounding victory,” Dr Besigye said. “It humbles me that after those years, and the fact that I might be having some weaknesses, you still trust me. I am indeed indebted for your hard work and support.”

The FDC president also thanked Gen. Mugisha Muntu for running a civilised campaign. “Even as we competed together, I have deepest respect for him,” Dr Besigye said. “I know him more than any of you here. I was telling you that political capital accumulates and that is why he has more votes than what he had 12 months back. I urge all of you to come up and vie for positions in this party.” The two gentlemen last faced-off in February last year for the post of party president.

Dr Besigye’s latest victory creates the possibility of a third showdown between President Museveni and the FDC leader—should the Inter Party Cooperation, a loose grouping of opposition parties, choose him as their joint candidate. Dr Besigye was beaten to the presidency by Mr Museveni in 2001 and 2006—although he contested both results in the Supreme Court.

Yesterday, Dr Besigye also promised to embark on building functioning party structures and raise the funds for the 2011 elections. “We must go back to ensure that our structures are on ground. I know that we have many branches, some week, some strong, some no- existing but we shall go back and strengthen all of them.”

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