African Press International (API)

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Museveni and EA federation

Posted by African Press International on September 16, 2007

Posted by Ham Mukasa

Museveni hanging on as EA federation wobbles

By Charles Mwanguhya Mpagi

Aides to President Yoweri Museveni say he has put more wood into the fire, cooking his ambitions to run for office again in 2011 as an East African Federation Presidency is looking increasingly bleak.

Museveni “returned to his roots” launching a campaign to popularise NRM’s Bonna Bagagawale ( prosperity for all) in Luwero, where he waged his bush war. Luwero is politically symbolic.

When in 2005, the President who has been running Uganda for over 21 years, sought a third term, a feat that also required the abolition of presidential term limits from the Uganda constitution, he started off campaigning in Luwero.

The President is unlikely, as in the past, to announce his availability to run again. A source in his office who has been in the two of his re-election campaigns (2001/6), said on Monday “there is no doubt that we will seek a fourth term”.

In several interviews with his political staff, Inside Politics was told that the President, whose popularity has taken a nose dive from its highs in 1996, is in a process of gauging his support.
STRATEGIST: Mr Museveni is unlikely to announce that he is willing to run for presidency again.

One of the problems facing the President (he turns 64 on September 14), is that an exit plan to a higher political office, as East Africa’s first federation President, is shaky with resistance from Dar-es- salaam. Tanzania wants East Africa to rethink the fast-tracking a political federation.

“If Arusha had worked out, then he would not have been interest in Uganda, he would plan to get someone to replace him here as he watches from above. That would have provided him a soft landing, but now it has been scuttled and he has to re-think,” said a source knowledgeable with the strategy in the Museveni camp.

That disappointment, sources confirm, has landed Ugandan Assistant Secretary General, Beatrice Kiraso, in trouble, for failing to lobby Tanzanian support for a political federation.

A senior political strategist the President hired recently but preferred anonymity because he is not allowed to disclose his plans, confirmed that the changing winds in East Africa were fanning the renewed attempt to create a momentum to re-elect Museveni in the next race.
Succession battles “He is catching up, basically I think he is just keeping in touch with the people; he doesn’t want to be seen as someone who only comes when there is an election. We need to talk to people and also capitalise on the split opposition, especially the wrangles between FDC and DP,” this source added.

The President has no credible challengers within his party while
contenders who have expressed ambitions have been caught in succession battles like the one between NRM Secretary General Amama Mbabazi and bush war veteran Maj. Gen Kahinda Otafiire.

Presidential Assistant on political affairs Moses Byaruhanga, another key strategist who has served the President in his re-election in the past two races, dismissed what he said was “speculation” about the President’s political future.

He also refused, when engaged, to draw lessons from similar “Luwero” tours that previously shaped the political calendar ahead of the next elections describing the tours as “normal”.

“As far as 2011 is concerned, all political parties will select their candidates,” Byaruhanga insists.

None the less, the President’s strategy is now familiar. During one of the rallies in Luwero, Museveni told residents that historical NRM members must accept and embrace new comers into the party. Observers quickly noted that he was referring to what is now seen as “a purge” of his party of potential rivals.

Corruption-related allegations have tripped historicals Jim Muhwezi, Otafiire and others. More historicals may yet be discredited. Muhwezi and Otafiire say it’s politics not the fight against graft which is behind their mis-fortunes. However, if Museveni does stay on, his hopes of becoming leader of East Africa are likely to become even more difficult.

Published by African Press International(API)/ African Press in Norway (APN) tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525

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