The more ex-premier Amama Mbabazi maintains grave-like silence, keeping his cards closer to his chest, the more he leaves his supporters guessing on his next move -with some now questioning whether he ever harbored genuine political ambitions or whether his plans have been neutralized once and for all.
A long-simmering dispute between Mbabazi and President Museveni- his decades-long ally, was slowly laid bare beginning with the October 2014 closure of the National Bank of Commerce and the subsequent passing of a resolution endorsing Museveni as the party’s sole candidate in 2016.
The resolution by and large caught Mbabazi flat-footed. He has since remained mute-occasionally insisting that he cannot run against Museveni while also occasionally saying he will announce his next move at the right time.
His youth troops have been scattered by Museveni’s stick and carrot approach; today they are holed up in Luzira on charges of abuse of [NRM] office, tomorrow they are hobnobbing with the President in his luxury vehicles traversing his upcountry farm in Kisozi on another day.
But as Mbabazi drags his feet over his next move, the NRM is not resting on its laurels as this week it released its roadmap to 2016-stating that nominations for Presidential candidates will take place on October 5 and 6 while Parliamentary candidates will be nominated on November 9 and 10.
His one bargaining chip is the NRM voters register which the party has been fighting over with his daughter-Nina Mbabazi over a Shs 6b.NRM will thus undertake fresh registration of voters to compile a new voter’s register at a higher cost than giving Nina’s Shs 6b.
And with the release of the Roadmap-the ball is in Mbabazi’s court; make or break time. But how will Mbabazi play the ball?
The Roadmap come amid a warming up between Mbabazi and top Opposition politicians.
He has also been in talks with top Opposition politicians. Founding Forum for Democratic Change President Kizza Besigye and Democratic Party president Norbert Mao have both admitted in interviews to having met pro-Mbabazi elements.
The Eagle Online understands FDC President Maj Gen (rtd) Mugisha Muntu has also conferred with Mbabazi.But sources close to the General say he is very skeptical with anything Mbabazi.
But with Mbabazi finding it a tall order convincing his newly found peers in the Opposition that he is marketable to the electorate, Mbabazi is likely to content with stepping in the plate of his erstwhile comrades in the ruling party.
Mbabazi’s not-so-beautiful past with the NRM have thickened the hearts of Opposition faithful to him being on the ballot. Besigye enthusiasts think he formed the thinking caps of regime functionaries that fiddled with the results in the 2001 race. Mbabazi was also the legal cook of unfriendly legislations-with an eye on Opposition political activities. They have never buried that hatchet.
He will thus be willing to begrudgingly throw his weight behind an Opposition candidate.