In the midst of the recent chaos that rattled the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), an opposition political party in Uganda, with allegations of leaders pocketing suspicious funds supposedly from State House, the party’s president, Patrick Oboi Amuriat, launched a scathing attack on the party’s founding president, Dr. Kizza Besigye. Their once-close relationship had now soured, and the FDC was in disarray.
Amuriat accused Besigye of masterminding a splinter group that had created a rival faction within the party, separate from the faction based at Najjanankumbi, where the FDC’s headquarters were located. He lamented, “I had a lot of respect for our founding president [Besigye], but I’m a man who can’t be a bootlicker of anyone. The code that has brought us together as FDC has been broken today.”
Besigye, who defied security to attend the extraordinary meeting where Nathan Nandala Mafabi and Geoffrey Ekanya were ousted as secretary general and treasurer, asserted that his former allies were now aligning with the National Resistance Movement (NRM), the ruling party.
The party’s first secretary general, Allice Alaso, claimed that Besigye had propelled Amuriat and Nandala into top FDC leadership positions. She remarked, “Amuriat and Nandala were pushed to the helm by Dr. Kizza Besigye who they now accuse of ‘big man syndrome.'”
Amuriat’s path to the FDC presidency had been unconventional. During the 2017 delegates’ conference, he was not the obvious choice to challenge Gen. Mugisha Muntu, the incumbent party president. However, insiders believed that Besigye had been quietly backing Amuriat, even though he had lost in the 2016 General Election. Besigye and Amuriat were often seen together, facing police crackdowns during their countrywide mobilization efforts.
Amuriat, firmly in Besigye’s camp, questioned the leadership of Muntu for conceding the 2016 presidential election to Museveni. His campaign focused on opposition to the removal of the presidential age limit from the Constitution, aligning with Besigye’s defiance campaign.
Throughout his campaign, Amuriat faced police brutality, arrests, and court charges. Despite the challenges, he persisted under the banner of the “barefoot revolution,” energizing the FDC’s support base.
However, as the 2021 General Election approached, Besigye decided not to run, leaving Amuriat as the FDC’s flag bearer. It became clear that Amuriat was lagging behind both incumbent President Museveni and Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, also known as Bobi Wine, in terms of preparation.
Despite Amuriat’s valiant efforts, FDC members started whispering about the influx of questionable funds. Initially, Besigye defended Amuriat, attributing his limited resources to his campaign hardships. However, it later emerged that the “dirty money” was one reason why Besigye refrained from fully endorsing Amuriat.
In the end, what was once a united front within FDC had crumbled, with Amuriat and Besigye on opposing sides of a bitter feud, leaving the party in disarray and uncertainty.