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Showdown in Uganda looms as Museveni, Mbabazi cross paths

Kampala Former prime minister Amama Mbabazi, who is running as an independent candidate in Uganda’s presidential election in February, is likely to cross paths with President Yoweri Museveni on January 10 in Mbale district.

The president is running under the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) banner.

Whereas Mr Mbabazi will be in Mbale to campaign, President Museveni will be there to ‘commission’ roads that are still under construction. Mbale was the first district Mr Mbabazi visited when he was carrying out his consultative meetings in September.

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Like Luweero and Nakaseke districts, Mbale is of symbolic importance to Uganda’s so-called ‘Bush War’ heroes.

Since he did not launch the roads then – though they were already being constructed – some political analysts say his handlers want to disorganise Mr Mbabazi’s rally.
“There will be a political showdown, which is likely to turn chaotic. You cannot have two presidential candidates with unresolved issues meeting in the same place,” Mr Yusuf Makweta, a political analyst, said.

Mr Paul Butita, the coordinator of The Democratic Alliance (TDA) in Bugisu Region, said NRM is out to disogranise Mr Mbabazi.
“They have a hidden agenda of disorganising Mbabazi rallies,” he said, adding: “It’s contrary to the Electoral Commission rules governing campaigns and the commission should act before it’s too late.”

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The electoral commission spokesperson, Mr Jotham Taremwa, refused to delve into the matter of the two presidential candidates meeting in the same town on the same day.

However, he added that there is nothing that would stop President Museveni from going back to an area he has been to – as long as he notifies the concerned officials and they hammer out a programme.
NRM officials refuted Mr Mbabazi’s supporters claim that Mr Museveni’s team is out to disorganise his campaign rallies.

“He is coming back to carry out his duties as a sitting President, not [to] disrupt Mbabazi’s campaigns as some of Mbabazi sympathisers want to think,” Mbale district NRM chairman, Muhamood Masaba, said.

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President Museveni is very aware that his former prime minister could eat into his western Uganda support base, and as the schism in the NRM widens, some unhappy NRM officials could join Mr Mbabazi.

Mr Yusufu Magomu, a political analyst in Mbale, said the NRM presidential candidate knows that among the area’s Bugisu community support for the NRM is on the wane – because of some unfulfilled pledges.
“President Museveni is aware of how entrenched the opposition is in the area and how the locals, save for the few who benefit from him directly, detest his party,” Mr Magomu argued.

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