President Museveni on Monday accepted a resolution by the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) Central Executive Committee (CEC) caucus to lead his party and the country into 2021 elections and beyond.
Mr Museveni on Monday afternoon told the NRM MPs who endorsed the resolution during their ongoing retreat at the National Leadership Institute in Kyankwanzi District that it was “an opportunity to add more steps to our mission-driven journey to make our country sustainably invulnerable.”
“I am therefore humbled by your confidence in me, and since I am still very able, I’m sure that together, we shall in the coming years finally deliver an economy that can sustainably deliver jobs to our young people,” he said.
The NRM MPs at a retreat in Kyankwanzi on Sunday approved a motion endorsing President Museveni as the party’s sole candidate in 2021 presidential elections.
This means there will be no internal competition for the party’s presidential flag bearer for 2021.
The “sole candidature” motion was one of the key recommendations the NRM CEC made during an earlier retreat at Chobe Safari Lodge in Nwoya District at the end of January.
The senior manager for information, communication and public relations at the NRM secretariat, Mr Rogers Mulindwa, said in a statement on Sunday that the motion for Mr Museveni’s sole candidature was moved by Ms Hellen Grace Asamo, the MP for persons with disabilities for eastern region.
“The NRM parliamentary caucus has unanimously supported the Chobe resolution by the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) to have national party chairman and President ... Museveni to continue leading the NRM and the State in 2021 and beyond,” the statement reads in part.
President Museveni was present when the party MPs approved the motion endorsing him as NRM’s sole candidate. He only kept smiling without saying a word.
The resolution, awaiting formalisation by the National Executive Committee (NEC), the party’s top organ, paves way for Mr Museveni to contest for the sixth elective term.
Before the approval of the motion, sources said the NRM secretary general, Ms Justine Kasule Lumumba, presented a justification why Mr Museveni should not be challenged for the party’s 2021 flag bearer.
Ms Lumumba told the NRM parliamentary caucus that Mr Museveni is “dependable” and has ensured stability and peace in the country.
She also said there was already a CEC resolution recommending that he becomes a sole candidate.
Ms Asamo on Sunday confirmed to Daily Monitor by telephone from the National Leadership Institute Kyankwanzi that her action was a resolution of the caucus.
In her motion, she said the main reasons for endorsing Mr Museveni’s sole candidature were to consolidate his achievements on peace and stability; moving the country towards prosperity, industrialisation, and stabilisation of the economy.
“I am happy that members approved my motion unanimously because this was an issue of the entire caucus, and the reasons in my motion are representative of what Mzee (Museveni) has done for this country,” Ms Asamo said.
In 2014, during a similar NRM caucus retreat at Kyankwanzi, the then Youth MP for Northern Uganda, Ms Evelyn Anite, went on her knees while presenting a motion ‘begging’ Mr Museveni to run as the party’s sole candidate. She was later appointed State minister for Youth and Children Affairs. Ms Anite is currently State minister for Privatisation and Investment.
However, Ms Asamo said she is not targeting a ministerial appointment.
“It is not my aspiration, I am a staunch member of the party and I am already a chair of the Equal Opportunities Committee of Parliament. As a person with disability, the President has done a lot for us and we did not do anything for him to bring us out of maginalisation,” she said.
Sources at Kyankwanzi also told this newspaper that about 10 MPs were fighting to move the motion to endorse Museveni’s sole candidature.
Following Ms Anite’s Cabinet reward for a similar move, such a motion has been seen as a way of catching the President’s eye.
Some of the MPs who were fighting to make history, sources said, included Usuk County MP Peter Ogwang, Luweero District Woman MP Lillian Nakate, Mbarara Municipality MP Michael Tusiime, Ajuri County MP Denis Hamson Obua and Dokolo North MP Paul Amoru.
However, realising the scramble for the motion, the party caucus resolved that Ms Asamo, who was not among the MPs fighting to lead the pack, proceeds to be the mover. Sources said she did not kneel like Ms Anite did five years ago.
In the 2014 resolution for sole candidate, Mr Museveni was facing an imminent political threat from his sacked prime minister and former party secretary general Amama Mbabazi. The resolution was preemptive move to block him from challenging Mr Museveni for the party’s flag bearer ahead of 2016 elections.
However, currently there was no known serious internal threat to Museveni’s candidature.
In 2014, Mr Mbabazi left the party and contested against Mr Museveni in 2016 elections as an independent candidate, but lost.
The Workers MP, Dr Sam Lyomoki, recently declared that he intended to contest against Dr Museveni for the NRM’s flag in 2021 elections but yesterday’s resolution sealed his fate.
Ms Asamo said Dr Lyomoki is free to contest for presidency but not through the NRM system.
“Lyomoki can still come. People have choices, and if he has got people to push him he can go forward,” she said.
Dr Lyomoki yesterday lashed out at the NRM caucus resolution describing it as a “nullity” because it contravenes the party constitution.
He insisted he will present himself to the party’s delegates conference which has the mandate to choose the flag bearer.
“The caucus does not have the power to decide on who will be the party flag bearer. This is a shame for President Museveni as a founder because he is leading the NRM to a constitutional crisis. The truth is that I am going to stand in the national conference but if they block me from attending, the 20 million members will know it was a manipulation,” Dr Lyomoki said by telephone.