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Besigye in U-turn: I will attend presidential debate

By David Lumu, Moses Walubiri

Added 14th January 2016 11:08 AM

Col. Kizza Besigye has accepted to participate in tomorrow’s presidential debate.

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Dr. Kizza Besigye

Col. Kizza Besigye has accepted to participate in tomorrow’s presidential debate.

It took Justice James Ogoola’s meeting with FDC officials for Dr. Col. Kizza Besigye to accept to participate in tomorrow’s presidential debate.

Besigye, the presidential flag bearer for the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), on Thursday morning confirmed that he will attend the high-billed debate.

Besigye, who had earlier said he would not attend if President Yoweri Museveni, the presidential flag bearer of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) is not part of the debate, told journalist in Budaka district that he will be part of the discussions as various presidential aspirants share views about their programmes for Ugandans.

Besigye made the u-turn after holding a closed-meeting with Ogoola on the sidelines of his campaign trail in Budaka district.

The debate, which will be moderated by BBC’s Newsday programme presenter, Allan Kasujja and KTN’s Nancy Kacungira, who recently won the Komla Dumor’s inaugural BBC award, will take place at Serena Hotel conference center, starting at 7pm.

Ogoola recently said that the three-hour debate will be attended by 1, 000 carefully selected people. These include, youth, women, people with disability, boda-boda riders, political party representatives, diplomats, election observers and nominees of the presidential candidates.

It comes at a time when various political pundits are still debating the question of whether Museveni attend.

However, on Wednesday last week, Museveni gave a tepid response when journalists asked him to confirm attendance during a press briefing at Kabale State Lodge.

Museveni said that he holds four rallies a day, throwing the possibility of his attendance of the debate to his handlers and the NRM staff to work it out.

On the other hand, Justine Kasule Lumumba, the party’s secretary general said that if Museveni can’t make it to the debate, he will be represented.

“As a party we have chosen President Museveni as our candidate. He is not a candidate of his own, but a canddiate of the party. Therefore, if he cannot make if, he will be represented,” she told journalists during a press conference at Kabale State lodge, which Museveni addressed as he wound up his campaigns in Kabale district.

The debate is organized by the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda.

The eight candidates that have been invited for the debate include; Museveni, Abed Bwanika (People’s Development Party flag bearer), Maj. Gen. Benon Biraaro (Uganda Farmers Party flag bearer), former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi (Independent), former Makerere University vice chancellor Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba (Independent), Eng. Joseph Mabirizi (Independent) and Faith Maureen Kyalya Walube (Independent).

Ogoola said that the topics of discussion for tomorrow’s debate will rotate around domestic economy, good governance, rule of law and social economic welfare.

During the second debate, which will be held on February 10, the candidates will tackle the issues of peace and security, foreign policy, regional integration, trade and cross-border crime, especially terrorism.

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