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Uganda's Opposition FDC Not Breaking Apart, Says Renegade Official

One of the leading female stalwarts of Uganda's main opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has described as outrageous reported allegations that she was paid 300 million shillings by President Museveni to sow seeds of discord within the FDC.

Beti Kamya, who is also a member of Uganda's parliament, resigned last month as Special Envoy in the office of FDC President Kizza Besigye when she failed to win the chairmanship of the party. Some FDC leaders branded her as power-hungry and a tribalist.

Kamya, who is currently on a speaking trip to the United States, told VOA she is not power-hungry nor a tribalist and that she resigned her position because of disagreement with her party's leaders on how to interpret the constitution.

"Unfortunately I have been described as such, but fortunately I'm neither of these things. I'm not power-hungry; I may be a little ambitious, but what's wrong with ambition, and I'm not a tribalist. What happened is that, although my resignation was part of my attempt to win the chairmanship of the FDC that was not the reason that I resigned. The reason that I resigned is because I felt that the leadership of FDC manipulated the constitution of FDC, particularly on the question of succession, or filling vacant positions, she said.

Kamya, whose tribal affiliation is Buganda, rejected any notion that she wanted the FDC chairmanship based on her tribal affiliation.

"No I did not want the position awarded to me. I wanted the position filled in accordance with the constitution. And the constitution says, Article 24, sub-section 2 that when a vacancy falls open, then the National Council will fill that the position, and the leaders of FDC did not fill that the position through the National Council as mandated by the constitution but preferred that it should be filled in the National Delegates Conference which is due in the next couple of months," Kamya said.

She would not say whether her failure to get the FDC chairmanship was based on her being a woman. Kamya however said some in the FDC leadership had told her that she was not qualified.

"I really don't know. I don't know. I don't want to speak for anybody, but speaking for myself, I just know that some leaders openly said they did not think that I am qualified. I don't know why not because we have no qualification in the constitution. And in any case, if you don't think I'm qualified, then it's a campaign issue. You put to a vote through an election, and the Electoral College will decide whether I am qualified or not. But they didn't do that," she said.

Kamya strongly rejected reported allegations by some in the FDC that she was paid 300 million shillings by President Museveni to disorganize the FDC.

"Of course not. It's outrageous that every time you have a difference of opinion people just go straight to Museveni. You know Museveni has not talked to me I think in four years. The last I talked to him was in 2004, and it is ridiculous for anybody to say that any time you disagree with them you are the one who has been paid and not them. I'm not the one who said the constitution should be manipulated unless Museveni paid them to manipulate the constitution," Kamya said.

Kamya said she's still committed to the ideals and values of the FDC and that her resignation would not destroy the party.

"The FDC is a strong party and we shall work it out. Most of them by the way have been largely press-driven storm in a teacup. If you don't agree with the way your leader is doing things you can resign so that you are not a part of the way that things are done. And so to me it was a media-driven storm in a teacup. I'm still in the FDC; I'm still committed to building the party; I'm still committed to the values that drove us to break off from the Movement and start FDC. And so it's a small thing that can happen in any party, a disagreement," Kamya said.