President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda who has been in power for 34 years will on January 26 seek endorsement of the ruling National Resistance Movement to run for the presidency.
President Museveni is set to walk into the Mandela National Stadium at Nambole where NRM delegates will announce him the sole presidential candidate for the 2021 general elections.
The event will also be NRM’s official anniversary celebrations with the party sitting comfortably in power, and planning the next six years under President Museveni.
At 75, President Museveni lost 30 kilogrammes in over just two months, walked 74km of a 195km trek in six days and has already set the record for being the longest serving leader in the region.
On Thursday, the NRM’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) approved an amendment of the party’s constitution to rid voting by secret ballot and instead allow voting by queuing in the internal elections. No candidate is expected to oppose the president in a move that will tighten his grip on the ruling party.
Party electoral commission chairperson Dr Tanga Odoi says the queue voting seeks to streamline violent and shoddy primaries and “bad manners” which leaves the party divided every electoral season.
President Museveni is known for keeping his political cards close to his chest and although there are no signs of succession in NRM top organs, the president has realigned his troops, and just last week, he extended an invite to two former allies-turned-foes, Amama Mbabazi, former prime minister and NRM ex-secretary general and Prof. Gilbert Bukenya, a former vice president, for the party meeting.
Mr Mbabazi was once a powerful figure in the party and in government but was dropped as secretary general and sacked as prime minister for showing ambition for the presidency. He ran against President Museveni in 2016 and garnered 120,000 votes, coming third. He petitioned the outcome alleging electoral malpractice but lost and disappeared into political oblivion.
He re-emerged three weeks ago when images of his meeting with the president were circulated by State House and his invitation to the party’s NEC was seen as affirmation of some sort of mending of fences.
But at 71, Mr Mbabazi is unlikely to present an alternative to a transition from Museveni.
President Museveni has over the years parted ways with many of his comrades-in-arms, purging them from the NRM and political sphere thus closing all windows for challenge and dissenting views within the party.
These figures include his four-time opponent and former personal physician Dr Kizza Besigye, former military commanders Maj-Gen Benon Biraaro, John Kazoora and Gen David Sejusa. Another close confidant whom he elbowed out was Amanya Mushega. They accuse President Museveni of deviating from the core NRM mandate.
The purge on dissent within the party has also extended to members of parliament who vote against the party’s position in the House.
President Museveni is known to summon NRM parliamentary caucus before a controversial vote in parliament, to direct them on what and how they should vote. NRM has a majority in parliament.
Currently, a group of six MPs are in court challenging the decision by the party to expel them.
NRM secretary general Kasule Lumumba had earlier threatened not to invite 30 MPs to the National Conference because they had voted against the recent lifting of the presidential age limit.
Meeting with foes
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and chairman of the ruling National Resistance Movement had invited former prime minister and NRM secretary general John Patrick Amama Mbabazi as a special guest to the party’s National Executive Committee meeting on January 24. Three weeks ago, President Museveni tweeted photos of him and Mr Mbabazi meeting at his farm at Kisozi. It later emerged Mr Mbabazi sought a meeting with his former foe to invite him to a meeting of the Brazzaville Foundation — a peace advocacy group named after the Congolese capital.
President Museveni has been cracking down on his opponents with youthful politician Bobi Wine and opposition leader Dr Kiza Besigye meeting the wrath of police. The two have been barred by police from addressing political rallies or any gathering.