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Mbabazi homecoming

Amama Mbabazi received by supporters in Kanungu

As Amama Mbabazi’s motorcade entered Kihihi town council in Kanungu district on Thursday, the independent presidential candidate was treated to homecoming reception deserving of a long lost son returning home.

Since he declared his intention to stand for presidency on July 15, 2015, Mbabazi had not yet gone back to his home district. So when he arrived yesterday, the usually sleepy town brimmed with an elaborate display of exuberance.

At the main rally at Kihihi high school, jubilant supporters waved tree branches and placards with messages welcoming Mbabazi home and others denouncing sectarian tendencies and corruption in government.

Mbabazi’s dominance stretched to the airwaves. The district’s two major radio stations – Mbabazi’s own Kinkiizi FM and Kanungu Broadcasting Services of businessman Garuga Musinguzi – mobilised massively for him.

Unlike other areas where President Museveni’s posters dominate, in Kinkiizi West, which Mbabazi has been representing in Parliament, there are hardly any Museveni posters.  The few posters that Museveni had were plucked away before being replaced with those of Mbabazi.

Only FDC presidential candidate Kizza Besigye competes with Mbabazi in terms of visible campaign material. Museveni’s posters are only visible in Kinkiizi East, which is represented by Chris Baryomunsi, Mbabazi’s nemesis. 

To show how confident he is in the district, Mbabazi has held two rallies, breaking away from his norm of having one rally per district. He had the first rally at Kanungu district headquarters, which is found in Kinkiizi East, and the last one at Kinkiizi high school found in Kinkiizi West.

FDC LENDS SUPPORT

Such is the massive support Mbabazi enjoys in his backyard that everyone wants to associate with him. At his rally at Kanungu district headquarters, the former premier was joined by the FDC leadership in the district.

Mbabazi told his supporters that he is working closely with FDC candidate Kizza Besigye because they have a common goal.

“We had talks aimed at getting a joint candidate. Even if we didn’t achieve it, we are still engaging. It is possible that anytime, we can reach an agreement,” he said.

Mbabazi called for vigilance against vote rigging, telling his supporters not to leave the polling stations after casting their ballots on voting day.

“Don’t leave the polling station; that’s where I want you to take care of. And then leave me to handle what goes on in Kampala [at the national tally centre],” he said.

POCKETS OF INDIFFERENCE

In the morning, before he could start his campaign trail, John Ntegyereize, the retired Bishop of Kinkiizi diocese led a group of clergymen to Mbabazi’s residence at Karubeizi village. The reason for the visit was to beseech God such that changes come to Uganda’s political scene.

“We pray that vote rigging ends in Uganda and we pray that the Electoral Commission gets courage to declare the actual results. We pray that the habit of declaring losers as winners should end,” Ntegyereize prayed. 

The bishop also prayed that God helps people to vote leaders who will attend to Kanungu’s various problems such as poor roads, electricity and water. However, Mbabazi didn’t have it all his way. In a district where religious animosity between Catholics and Anglicans is so potent it can be felt, Mbabazi’s massive influence in the area has not pleased everyone.

Mbabazi campaigns in Kanungu

According to Didas Tukahebwa, the head teacher of Kinabwa primary school, Mbabazi as the head of the laity in Kinkiizi diocese had divided the district along religious lines. Tukahebwa, who is also the head of the head teachers association, accused Mbabazi of sabotaging Baryomunsi’s ministerial ambitions just because he is Catholic.

“…Take for example Baryomunsi, when he was still in government, Mbabazi blocked him from being minister because he [Mbabazi] hates Catholics.Baryomunsi only became minister after the downfall of Mbabazi. One would wonder why he was blocking him,” Tukahebwa said.

Tukahebwa also doubts that if Mbabazi is elected president, he would be any different from Museveni.

“Mbabazi has been promoting Museveni and NRM; so, even if his Go Forward wins he would do the same things as Museveni has been doing,” he said. “If I am not to vote for Museveni and I vote for change then I would rather vote for Besigye.”

However, Robert Turyasingura, a farmer from Karima village in Kinkiizi East told The Observer that all his hope rests with Mbabazi.

“As a resident of Kanungu, I think having Mbabazi as our own will greatly benefit us to get better service delivery in terms of roads and health services.” he said. “We love Museveni but I think it’s time for him to retire. He has played his part; it’s time to Uganda for have a change.”

sadabkk@observer.ug

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