By Henry Mukasa
Presidential aspirant David Nyekorach Matsanga has praised President Yoweri Museveni for opening up political space and nurturing democracy.
â€œThere is still no level ground in Ugandan politics but we must credit President Museveni for allowing some tenets of democracy and good governance,â€ he said in a statement to The New Vision.
Matsanga, the erstwhile spokesperson for the LRA rebels, said although the opposition still faced blackmail, harassment, intimidation and torture from state organs, he argued that â€œdemocracy evolvesâ€.
â€œThere will be no reverse gear against plural democracy in Uganda which we have fought for in the last 23 years in exile in London,â€ he added.
Matsanga said last week he would first contest for the UPC presidency. His presidential campaign slogan, he added, would be: â€œPeace and national unity for a better Uganda tomorrow.â€
Matsanga said fellow exiles persuaded him to return to Uganda and stand for the presidency, although he had vowed never to come back unless Museveniâ€™s â€œdictatorshipâ€ had ended.
In the statement, however, Matsanga seems to have changed his opinion of the President. He said: â€œThere are things I admire about President Museveniâ€™s leadership like being against gay and lesbian beliefs.â€
He went on: â€œThe level of economic empowerment is higher although found in the hands of a few. This is good because he has created a middle class that will change Uganda without a gun or a coup.â€
Matsanga also said political space and activity in Uganda had grown from a small base. He said all Ugandans should strengthen the achievements to ensure the country does not become a pariah state like Somalia.
Matsanga said his disagreements with Museveni were manageable. He explained that one such disagreement was the Presidentâ€™s â€œunilateral banning of parties in 1986â€.
This changed with the re-introduction of multi-party politics. â€œIt has been a step forward for UPC to have seats in Parliament in 2006 election,â€ he said
Matsanga said although UPC had been weakened by â€œinfighting based on material assetsâ€, it could rebuild itself and win elections with new ideas from him.
He again accused presidential aspirant Olara Otunnu of being part of the coup which ousted UPC from power in 1985.
â€œWe must not repeat the mistakes of the past,â€ Matsanga pointed out.