By Charles Birungi
The opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) and its long term presidential contender, Dr. Kizza Besigye are set to launch a fresh wave of civil disobedience activities to oppose perceived plans by the ruling National Resistance Movement to amend the presidential age limit in the constitution.
According to sources close to Besigye and the FDC camp, the disruptive anti government activities dubbed ‘Defiance campaign II’, will likely resume as early as next week, leading to renewed violent clashes on the streets between radical opposition activists and law enforcement, especially the police.
This time round, some members of the civil society groups who Kampala Post will not name now have also expressed a strong desire to participate in the forthcoming defiance programs, and have vowed to do whatever it takes to stop President Museveni after he clocks 75 years of age from running for the presidency.
According to highly placed sources in security circles who intimated to this publication on condition of anonymity, the opposition kingpin Dr. Besigye, and his loyal lieutenants Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, FDC Secretary for Mobilization, Ingrid Turinawe, FDC National Chairman Wasswa Birigwa, Nakawa MP Micheal Kabaziguruka and other supporters are already holding clandestine and underground mobilization meetings to reactivate their structures, which were created at the onset of Walk-to-Work protests after the general elections in 2011. These structures were renamed Power 10, officially a grouping of 10 people per village which the FDC party claimed were for mobilization and to protect the votes of their presidential candidate during the recently concluded elections in February 2016.
According to the intelligence sources, some of the clandestine meetings have taken place in churches that have now mushroomed everywhere in the country - under the cover of darkness and disguised as overnight prayers were these subversives plan mayhem for the country. The defiance mobilizers are attempting to operate under the radar in a bid to take the security agencies by surprise.
Dr. Besigye has entrusted most of the work of reactivating the ‘Walk to Work’ and ‘Defiance’ contacts throughout the country to his close confidant, Ingrid Turinawe. Turinawe is the “Internal Affairs” minister in Besigye’s so called “Peoples Government,” which he formed after his fourth straight defeat against President Yoweri Museveni of the NRM. But ever since her humiliating defeat in the Ugandan parliament in February where she had wanted a seat as one of Uganda’s East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) representatives, she has been out of the public limelight. We now know why.
The plan to revive the defiance campaign next week was hinted on by Dr. Besigye himself in a press statement at his Katonga Road based office in upscale Nakasero, a Kampala suburb, last week.
“In coordination with other political and civil society formations, we will soon start various activities that will disempower and bring the now fragile junta to an end,” said Dr. Besigye. He argued that the “NRM/Museveni Junta” has no “legitimacy” to amend the Uganda constitution, he instead (in an act of delusion?) called for a transitional process, presumably with him as leader of any transitional government.
The presidential age limit debate gained currency a fortnight ago when some sections of the media claimed that government had gazetted the Constitution Amendment Bill 2017, in which a clause to expunge the age limit on the presidency had allegedly been included.
The constitution bars persons aged above 75 years from running for President. President Museveni will turn 73 in September this year, and will be 77 years old in 2021, becoming ineligible to run for office again unless the constitutional clause on age limit is amended.
The age limit debate has gained even more traction this week, with some members of the NRM party coming out yesterday in support of the proposed age limit amendment. Led by the Presidential Secretary for Political Affairs Mr. David Mafabi, the group, calling itself diverse NRM supporters resolved to immediately take steps to popularize countrywide the proposal to scrap the age limit from the constitution. The drive to amend the constitution to remove the age limit is gaining popularity across the country and the NRM party is widely tipped to succeed if the issue is put to a referendum.