The Democratic Alliance [TDA] is an opposition parties alliance aiming at fronting a single candidate to contest against President Yoweri Museveni in the 2016 elections.
The FDC is the strongest opposition party which has just concluded its delegates conference that saw Dr. Kizza Besigye as its flag bearer.
The FDC and Dr. Besigye in particular has a record of consistently opposing the ruling NRM and Museveni in particular.
During the party primaries, the two contestants had differed on platforms – Dr. Besigye advocated for ‘No Electoral Reforms, No Elections’ while Mugisha Muntu argued that with proper organisation Museveni can be defeated even without electoral reforms.
Dr. Besigye’s victory implied that the FDC was to pursue the ‘No Reforms, No Elections’ agenda.
However, the FDC under its President, Mugisha Muntu, had subscribed to the TDA with a commitment to seek its joint candidacy and to back whoever will be elected even when he is from a different political organisation.
Also, TDA had made a commitment to pursue the electoral reforms ahead of the 2016 general elections.
Among the TDA joint candidacy aspirants is the former Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi, who has made it categorically clear that he remains a member of NRM and represents a splinter ruling NRM group under the banner of NRM Pro-change.
His campaign platform is that the ruling party and Museveni in particular has for the past 30 years moved the country forward and the only concern is change of the top most leadership – the presidency.
He is comfortable with the electoral process in its current form and is not in for electoral reforms prior to the general elections. He looks very confident to win the elections.
So far he has to some extent demonstrated that he has the capacity to organise using the element of surprise and deception that keeps the regime guessing about his next move.
The regime has a stake in the TDA so that it averts the agitation for electoral reforms ahead of the 2016 elections.
Already reports coming from the TDA top summit indicate that Amama is the preferred candidate.
They argue that he has the capacity to pull supporters from the ruling NRM, has links with some elements in the security circles, and has the financial might to adequately fund the campaigns.
This development has not gone well with some people in the FDC/Besigye camp.
It is a fact that these credentials do exist in Mbabazi’s candidature.
However, to the regime, such credentials qualify him as an enemy thus it has been digging trenches and positioning its arsenals in order to deal with him.
The regime cannot just sit back and watch Mbabazi tearing apart their hold on power.
Therefore, once Mbabazi will have been selected as the TDA flag bearer and the Electoral Commission nomination date closed, the regime will use any flimsy legal grounds to disqualify Mbabazi from contesting for the Presidency.
At that stage it will be too late for the TDA or any other political party to bring up an alternative candidate.
That way, Museveni will have killed two birds (agitation for reforms and Mbabazi) with one stone.
Legal grounds aside, some regime hardliners may even go out of their way to physically harm Amama Mbabazi just to stop him from challenging their hold on power.
If Dr. Besigye withdraws from the TDA before selection of the flag bearer is made, he will be able to contest for the Presidency on the FDC ticket but will lose the support of some of the top FDC officials and the party to TDA.
There is even a possibility that his party may even block him from being nominated by the Electoral Commission.
On the other hand Dr. Besigye’s withdraw will save Amama Mbabazi from the wrath of the regime since his backing will have diminished.
By comparison, Mbabazi needs TDA more than Dr. Besigye does.
TDA provides Mbabazi with a platform and sanctuary from the pursuing NRM who want him to leave their party and have even ring fenced certain geographical regions where he should never step.
Assuming that Mbabazi wins the TDA flag beareship and the regime does not interfere with his candidature, how will the opposition coalition campaign for him when they carry divergent views about their main opponent – the regime and Museveni!
For Mbabazi, the regime is okay but only needs change of top leadership and for the traditional opposition parties, the regime is evil and needs total overhaul after victory in an electoral process after reforms.
Otherwise, the coalition would be okay if it could give priority to meaningful electoral reforms.
If the TDA selects Besigye as its flag bearer, Amama Mbabazi will still go ahead and contest as an independent.
Whatever the rules of the game, Museveni is the referee.
Sarah Nalukenge, the author is a social and political analyst