The North is becoming more important to Museveni than Buganda

By Omar Kalinge-Nnyago

There were no surprises at the UPC delegates' conference in Kampala last

weekend. Olara Otunnu was the obvious choice. The other contenders nearly

humiliated themselves by allowing their hearts (emotions) lead their heads

(minds). They just stood no realistic chance.
Analysts are preoccupied with the implications of Otunnu's re- entry into

Uganda's mainstream politics. The analysis becomes more complicated in the

face of another recent dramatic, if controversial, election of Nobert Mao as

Democratic Party president. Both Mao and Otunnu hail from Acholi. Acholi is

home to the longest and most formidable armed resistance group against the

Museveni regime, the Lords' Resistance Movement, LRA. The region has

characteristically rejected Museveni by the ballot and by the bullet.

Uganda's opposition has to contend with two ambitious new comers who want to

make their mark on the highest political podium. In under three weeks, party

leadership, both held by Baganda, i.e., UPC's Mama Miria Kalule Obote and

DP's John Sebaana Kizito have shifted to the previously ostracised Acholis,

as if by design. The events point firmly to a Buganda –Acholi friendship

proposal. It is no wonder that in his maiden press conference Olara Otunnu

mentioned Buganda and Baganda over twenty times.
Mao seems to be struggling. He will spend the next few months trying to

establish himself as the undisputed DP leader in the face of the ever

growing challenge from the DP's so called “real owners”. But still he has

managed impressive but curious crowds in Masaka and Jinja. The Luganda

press, certainly not the government owned *Bukedde*, but notably the

pro-Mengo weekly, *Eddoboozi *has been extravagantly positive with Mao. The

way things are, he could get a *Kiganda* name one of these days. Didn't

Obote once become a Bweete?
Could the Buganda and Acholi divide, which the Museveni regime has exploited

over the past 24 years be narrowing?. Wasn't one of Kabaka Mutesa II's

closest friends ever, an Acholi member of Kabala Yekka, Daudi Ochieng?

The analysis gets more intriguing* *when the Inter Party Cooperation dynamic

is factored in. IPC is headed to field a single joint presidential

candidate, to be chosen from among the flag bearers of the member parties.

Otunnu has been unambiguous in his support for IPC. Appearing on a local TV

show Tuesday night, he reiterated his undivided commitment to the IPC

project. Mao has not been half as clear as Otunnu has been on the IPC, and

seems to need some time before he understands how IPC was designed to

It is tempting for any ambitious politician to want to have their photograph

on the presidential ballot paper. But the opposition electorate has demanded

for a single candidate since 1996.They demand the same even more forcefully

for 2011. Any miscalculation by any opposition politician of the mood of

Uganda's opposition electorate must result into humiliation. Not unlike the

one that Sebaana and Mama Miria suffered in the 2006 presidential race. Mao,

(or any other candidate including Bidandi Ssali), does not stand a chance

outside IPC. He ought to quickly find a copy of the IPC protocol of

December 2009 and have a good look at it.
Otunnu and Mao must find a way to work together if the northern vote is to

benefit the opposition. Yet, a resurgent UPC and probably DP in the North

can benefit the opposition more if it does not necessarily shrink the

original FDC vote bank of 2006. UPC, DP and FDC would do well to maturely

share parliamentary seats in the region as they vote a single presidential

candidate with a terrific voter turnout of not less than ninety percent. If

this does not happen, the NRM, which is already making remarkable inroads in

the Northern region, will certainly claim Acholi and Lango combined.

So, even the losses that the NRM will likely suffer in Buganda, what with

the malicious closure of CBS, radio, burning to ashes of the royal tombs,

and the subsequent shooting of seven Buganda loyalists in front of the

smouldering tombs in Museveni's presence, will be of little consequence. In

2011, winning the northern region will be more important to Museveni than

winning Buganda. It is Mao and Otunnu's conscious actions that will keep

the North for the opposition or give it away to the NRM.

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