MPs who lost the NRM primaries yesterday met at parliament and threatened to join Amama Mbabazi’s Go Forward group, citing mistreatment by the ruling party.
The NRM electoral commission on Wednesday published the final list of all party flag bearers for the 2016 elections. But this was contested by some of the losers, who had petitioned on grounds of voting irregularities.
Hence, yesterday, under the chairmanship of West Budama South MP Jacob Oboth-Oboth, a reported 60 NRM losers met at Parliament to chart a way forward. And in an ostensibly surprise move, the Go Forward movement activist and a former agriculture MP, Hope Mwesigye, entered the meeting, escorted by Kitagwenda MP Nulu Byamukama.
Go Forward is the pressure group formed by former prime minister Amama Mbabazi to drive his presidential campaign. Hope Mwesigye is also Mbabazi’s sister-in-law.
According to sources that attended the meeting, Mwesigye told the losers that Go Forward had enough room for all willing to join.
“We shall give you all the support you need, but for only those who are willing to move with us,” Mwesigye reportedly told the losers. “We are not going to force you if you see that you are not comfortable with us.”
Sources said Mwesigye gave the politicians one day to make up their minds, so that she can set up a meeting with Amama Mbabazi before nominations next week.
Addressing journalist after the meeting, chairman Oboth said majority of the losers in the meeting resolved to run as independents.
“About 60 of us have agreed to go independent and we are opening our doors to negotiate with those who can help us win,” Oboth said. “When Hope Mwesigye heard about the meeting…, she came and she was wooing us to Go Forward, a matter which is being considered by all members seriously.”
Oboth said they were not “convinced” by NRM electoral chief Tanga Odoi’s handling their petitions.
“It is not that I am a bad loser but we must be seen to be relevant. Out of 110 losers, about 60 have decided to go independent. If anybody thinks that we are not relevant, let them wait for the 18th of February  and see who will be the loser. Tomorrow (Friday) by midday, we are going to announce our final position.”
Nakato Kyabangi, the Woman MP for Gomba, told The Observer that she had not expected to see Hope Mwesigye in the meeting.
“We had agreed to meet ourselves as losers but I was surprised to see her entering the room,” she said.
Asked whether she was in agreement with Mwesigye’s request, Kyabangi was hesitant to say. MP Isaac Sejjoba (Bukoto Mid West) said what mattered was being nominated next week.
“Whether the NRM fight me or not, I am determined to go independent. I have even paid the Shs 3 million. I have my receipt here with me. My people voted for me but I was rigged out by mafias,” Sejjoba said.
The MP for Kassanda North, Godfrey Lubega, said that it was necessary for them to meet and agree on the way forward because time was not on their side.
“She [Hope Mwesigye] has talked to us. They are willing to facilitate our campaigns all through,” Lubega said.
Other MPs who attended the meeting included Patrick Mulindwa (Kasambya County), Kiwalabye Majegere (Bunya East), Ignatius Besisira, Peter Okeyo, Baker Ssali, Bakka Mugabi, Sulaiman Balyejusa, Huda Oleru, Jacob Wangolo, Mabel Bakeine, Agnes Nabirye and Achayo Christine.
After the meeting, a smiling Hope Mwesigye suggested that the meeting seemed promising, from Go Forward’s perspective.
“Yes, we have talked. All of them seem to be in agreement with us,” she told us, as she entered a lift to go down.