By Mike Ssegawa
Apollo Kantinti needs not spend sleepless nights thinking about his loss or victory in Kyadondo East by election due on June 29 despite the fact the result will immediately affect him. However, this election is a referendum on Dr Kizza Besigye’s popularity in his backyard.
Many people might be focusing on the immediate players; the contestants in the race – however, political strategists across the divide have already seen that a victory for the FDC candidate in the race with confirm the position of Dr Besigye as Uganda’s most credible opposition leader. And a loss, will poke holes into a reputation of the man seen as invincible, that he could be upset by anyone he has not endorsed.
This explains why Dr Besigye has entered the Kyadondo bi election earlier than he usually does. Already, he has showed his discomfort by putting his money on two candidates; Apollo Kantinti the FDC ticket holder, and on popular musician Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu aka Bobi Wine.
Besigye told reporters earlier that he supports Kantinti, his party’s candidate, but added, he will not mind a Bobi Wine victory.
The half commitment to his party candidate is an indication that Besigye fears an upset in his backyard can happen, and therefore, wants to play safe.
To be fair to the retired colonel, he has been seen before as close to Bobi Wine, but, in the light of a bi-election, he has to play by the rules of his party.
If he endorses an independent candidate, Besigye would look bad and therefore instigate anarchy in the party he worked so hard to build.
Kantinti, having been the party’s ticket holder, withdrawn only by court for mistakes of the Electoral Commission, Besigye did not have a reason to remove Kantinti from the ticket. Efforts however to convince Bobi to leave it for Kantinti this time round fell on deaf ears. Bobi Wine had challenged the FDC leaders to hold a primary between him and Kantinti and if he lost he would sit back and endorse his rival. That did not make sense to the FDC leaders – in principle they are right.
Now Bobi is proving to be the headache FDC never expected to have now. He is seen as single handedly dismantling the FDC machinery in Kyadondo East, where Besigye is a voter and most adored resident.
If Bobi upsets Kantinti on June 29, despite the high power delegation of experienced FDC campaigners on the ground, it will burst the Besigye invincibility. It will damage the Besigye narrative as the ultimate commander of Greater Kampala in the political field. And Bobi is not apologetic about that – he believes FDC put it money on the wrong candidate. He believes it would have been a done deal had FDC put its money on him against NRM’s Sitenda Sebalu.
If Bobi wins without the support of FDC and the pretentious Mao’s DP, it will embolden him, and of course do his politics independently even if he joins parliament. On the other hand, if Bobi loses to Kantinti in about a fortnight, the youth who are banking on Bobi to win, will blame Besigye, who they have been supporting all along, for causing the defeat of their man. It is a tough time for Besigye. He is breaking too many hearts.
Whether a win or loss, the aftermath of June 29 will not leave FDC and Dr Kizza Besigye, the same.
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