Challenger Mbabazi Vows To Unseat His Former Boss, Gen. Museveni, In 2016 Vote

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Challenger Mbabazi after nomination -- "let freedom reign."

[Africa: Uganda Elections]

"I am going to be president of Uganda in 2016," were the confident words uttered by John Patrick Amama Mbabazi soon after he officially signed his nomination papers before before the country's chair of the Election Commission at Mandela Stadium, at Nambole, outside Kampala on Tuesday.

Supporters as far as the eyes could see accompanied the challenger to the stadium.

There had been fears that the regime of Gen. Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power for 30 years, would try to arrest Mbabazi who until last year was prime minister and Secretary General of Museveni's ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party. "I am here not arrested," he said, to much applause, addressing a concern that was in the back of the minds of many of his supporters.

Observers believe Mbabazi together with Dr. Kizza Besigye, long-time opposition leader and president of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) present a formidable combined challenge to Gen. Museveni's hold on power.

Mbabazi became an official candidate when Election Commission chair Badru M. Kiggundu said at 11:05 AM "I declare John Patrick Amama Mbabazi presidential candidate for TDA, You are now free to go and campaign, we are going to give you security detail.”

TDA, or The Democratic Alliance is an umbrella organization created to unite all opposition parties behind one candidate. TDA was not able to gain consensus behind either Mbabazi or Besigye but the majority of parties backed the former prime minister. Mbabazi and Besigye then went on to negotiate a pact whereby they would rally their supporters to unify behind one of them to defeat Gen. Museveni.  Most observers believe in a free and fair election the opposition would defeat the general outright or deny him the 50% needed to avoid a runoff which most people expect he would lose.

Foreign diplomats attended the nomination as did Dr. Olara Otunnu president of the Uganda People's Congress (UPC) party and Beatrice Anywar, FDC Member of Parliament and many other officials.

Mbabazi made an appeal to the youth citing 64% unemployment for the young. "We need change," he said.

In addition to the TDA umbrella Mbabazi's campaign is backed by GoForward, his pressure group and disaffected members of the NRM who have abandoned Gen. Museveni. When asked about the country's many problems, in a reference to his former boss's shortcomings Mbabazi said, "I have not been president."

He added: "We want to change power. Our purpose is to ensure Uganda has a peaceful transition of power."

A former security minister, Mbabazi was once feared -- now he is seen as the candidate that can prevent Museveni from stealing the election.

Gen. Museveni himself was also officially nominated earlier Tuesday before Mbabazi.

 

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