Party organ prevails on Museveni about Mbabazi

Saturday March 29 2014

Top leaders of the NRM, in an attempt to resolve a power struggle in Uganda’s ruling party between factions loyal to President Yoweri Museveni and those aligned to Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, advised the duo to sort out their differences without dividing the party or casting it as an undemocratic institution. TEA Graphic

A firm stand by the National Resistance Movement’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) is behind the sudden deflation of efforts to remove Uganda Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi as Secretary-General of the ruling party.

Mr Mbabazi, whose political future had for several weeks been the subject of speculation after he was accused of secretly mobilising to stand against President Yoweri Museveni in 2016, started last week in a more relaxed posture, presiding over party meetings and confidently dismissing a reported falling out with his principal and longtime friend.

The EastAfrican has learnt that the premier owes the turnaround in fortunes to the outcome of a meeting of the party’s CEC, which had been called to discuss the charges elements within the party had initiated against him.

The change of heart is also driven by a need to reunite the party after an acrimonious and potentially damaging couple of weeks, ahead of the 2016 polls.

Sources familiar with the proceedings of the meeting said unlike the earlier caucuses of the ruling party, where the premier had been on the defensive, the CEC turned guns on its chairman President Museveni.

READ: NRM meeting to decide party position of Mbabazi


Members reminded the president that his actions against the premier were casting the party in a negative light.

With a few exceptions, members adopted the position that even if the premier was “guilty” of harbouring presidential ambitions and mobilising to achieve them, this violated neither the national nor the party constitution.

“They pointed to the fact that right from the NRM 10-point programme and its 4-point condensed version, building a democratic society consistently features as a core objective,” said the source privy to the proceedings.

The duo was then advised to sort out their differences without dividing the party or casting it as an undemocratic institution.

According the source, the President was shocked that some of speakers had been attending the preceding caucuses without betraying their position.

Outnumbered and faced with these compelling arguments, President Museveni reportedly capitulated, blaming faulty intelligence for his earlier position. The members said that if the bickering between the two principals was not checked, it could tempt the armed forces to jump into the fray.

READ: How Museveni fell out with ally Mbabazi

While the CEC endorsed the proposal to have Richard Todwong, a Cabinet minister without portfolio, execute Mbabazi’s duties of secretary-general, it rejected all other caucus decisions on the matter, including a resolution to have NRM legislators hold a countrywide campaign to promote President Museveni as the party’s sole flag bearer for the February 2016 presidential elections.

The NRM Chief Whip Justine Lumumba formally presented the caucus resolution to the CEC, including a proposal to delegate some of Mr Mbabazi’s work as secretary-general to Mr Todwong.

President Museveni and Mr Mbabazi later went into a private meeting whose details were not divulged.

But in a pointer to what could have transpired, Mr Mbabazi on March 23 was hosted on an extended talk show at Voice of Kigezi FM, a radio station in western Uganda, during which he candidly spoke about the events of the past few weeks, accusing the media of exaggerating his differences with the president.