Some members of the controversial NRM Poor Youth have renounced association with the former Prime Minister John Patrick Amama Mbabazi and joined President Yoweri Museveni’s camp.
While addressing journalists at Silver Springs hotel in Bugolobi, Twaha Jjengo, the group’s National Treasurer, said they have deserted Mbabazi’s camp because he is no longer in the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party.
“We have been Mbabazi’s supporters but since he decided to run in the presidential elections as an Independent, we have decided to join President Yower Kaguta Museveni because he is the NRM candidate,” Jjengo said.
The youth also accuse Mbabazi of ‘disappointing us at the last moment by refusing to participate in the part’s internal process’.
Denis Kato, the group’s Coordinator for Nakawa Division said as youth leaders they had abandoned Mbabazi who is running as an Independent because they are aspiring for positions on the NRM ticket.
“Remember we always told you the media that the moment Mbabazi ceases to be an NRM member then we shall cease to be his supporters and this is what has exactly happened today,” Kato said.
However, there was chaos at the beginning of the meeting which was held before the press conference was held.
On arrival at the venue the youth became rowdy saying they do not want the presence of the media. They dispersed while chanting pro-Mbabazi slogans, leaving only the organizers and journalists in the room.
It took the intervention of the Mr Willy Okello, a Security Coordinator in the office the NRM Chairman to convince the leaders of the ‘poor youth’ to come back for the meeting.
When they agreed to come back they then decided to lock out journalists only to recall the media after the meeting had been concluded.
Meanwhile, as the meeting progressed, Steven Kalungi, one of the NRM poor youths, stormed out claiming his colleagues had been compromised. “All those people who are putting on Museveni’s T-shirts have been given 1.5 million as agreed in the meeting and I can’t be party to that,” Kalungi charged. “For us we are still Amama Mbabazi’s supporters and we shall always be,” Kalungi added.
But his seemed to be a lone voice because as the journalists were called inside the meeting room the youth seemed to have had a change of mind and were now chanting pro-Museveni slogans.
But contacted for comment on the developments, the NRM Poor Youth’s National Coordinator Richard Kirekyankuba said those who claim they crossed had done so as individuals.
“For us as NRM Poor Youth, we are still supporters of Amama Mbabazi and whatever has taken place at Silver Springs is non of our concern and we shall still go ahead with our programs,” Kirekyankuba, who did not attend the meeting at Silver Springs Hotel, said.
Meanwhile, those who attended the meeting denied receiving money or any form of inducement, saying that it was their conviction that they join President Museveni.
“We have worked for Mbabazi for so long and there is no way we can be bought by one and a half million shillings and besides, Mbabazi has declared that money is not his problem,” Godfrey Muhimbwa, one of the group’s leaders, said.
They also said the group’s name has henceforth changed from NRM Poor Youth to NRM Poor Youth for Museveni, and warned any group against masquerading under their banner.
“There will be no more demonstrations in town in the names of the NRM Poor Youth apart from mobilizing support for President Museveni,” they chorused.
In the NRM the road to the 2016 presidential elections has been laced with barbs after the February 14 2014 motion moved in Kyankwanzi by Northern Youth MP Evelyn Anite, seeking the endorsement of Museveni as the ‘sole candidate’ for the NRM.
Since then Museveni, the NRM Chairman and his erstwhile Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi have been engaged in a ‘silent battle’ to win over party supporters including the ‘poor youth’, but Mbabazi seems to have lost the internal struggle, opting to stand as an Independent in the 2016 elections, after failing to get the NRM party endorsement.