I won’t run in 2016, says Besigye

The FDC leader, Dr Kizza Besigye, has announced that he will not contest for the national presidency in 2016. Dr Besigye, whose second term as Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party president expires in 2014, also said he would not seek to extend his leadership of the main opposition party in the country.

Dr Besigye has been President Museveni’s main political rival over the last decade and leading challenger for the presidency in the last three elections.

While the FDC constitution bars him from running for the party presidency after two terms in office, it does not have similar restrictions for anyone seeking to stand on the party ticket for the national presidency.

The FDC leader broke the silence over his political future on Saturday during a two-day retreat for party leaders held in Mukono District.
The meeting was called to examine last year’s elections and to propose a way forward for the opposition party. Dr Besigye is expected to meet another set of FDC leaders in Mukono today.

“I am not going to be like the NRM and President Museveni who want to cling on to power. I will not change the party constitution for selfish reasons to serve another term,” Dr Besigye, who was flanked by the party’s vice president for eastern Uganda, Ms Salaam Musumba, and the Leader of Opposition, Mr Nandala Mafabi, reportedly announced during a closed-door meeting.

‘Shocked’ audience
Sources not authorised to speak on behalf of the party and therefore sought anonymity told Daily Monitor that after Dr Besigye’s announcement, silence engulfed the hall with most officials visibly shocked.

According to the FDC Deputy Spokesperson, Mr Toterebuka Bamwenda, Dr Besigye did request to retire after serving his second term. He said Dr Besigye explained to officials that he had served his two terms successfully and time had come for him to give way to new leadership.

“Dr Besigye said he would retire from the leadership of the party when his current term expires and that he will not seek re-election as the party’s presidential flag bearer in 2016, saying he had successfully completed his two terms. The party leaders, however, said they still need him as FDC party leader and presidential candidate,” Mr Bamwenda said.

A group, reportedly led by the FDC chairperson for Kasese District, tried to dissuade Dr Besigye from stepping down. Whereas Dr Besigye did not hint on his possible successor during the meeting, the FDC leader reportedly directed his party officials to formulate a transition plan that among other things will enable them elect his likely replacement.

Speculation is, however, rife that a succession battle has been raging on with a number of candidates expressing interest to replace him.

Likely replacement
Those that have so far been tipped to replace Dr Besigye include Mr Nandala Mafabi, Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu, Bugweri MP Abdu Katuntu, Aswa County MP Reagan Okumu, Kitgum Woman MP Beatrice Anywar and Ms Musumba.

Dr Besigye could not be reached for a comment by press time as his known mobile phone was switched off. As soon as the 2011 presidential elections ended, some party officials started agitating for Dr Besigye’s exit, saying he had played his part to the full.

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