Bobi Wine [Photo: Twitter]

Ugandan pop star turned politician Robert Sentamu Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine on Wednesday, July 23, 2020, launched a new political party, the National Unity Platform (NUP), ahead of the 2021 general election. In a lengthy statement after the unveiling of NUP in Kampala, the Kyadondo East MP who is gearing to run against the long-serving president and leader of the National Resistance Movement (NRM), Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, stated that the party whose emblem is a stripped umbrella with a distinctive clenched fist in its logo was People Power Movement’s political wing.

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Explaining why the faction that has characterized the 38-year-old’s struggle in his bid to unseat President Museveni was not registered as a party, Bobi Wine stated that the movement’s attempts were foiled by the government. “When we started the People Power Movement about three years ago, we had lengthy discussions about whether or not to register a political party. Our analysis led us to the conclusion that it was both untimely and impractical to form a political party. In any case, we were alive to the fact that the regime would foil any attempt to register People Power as a political party. Indeed, at the end of 2018,  our legal team tried to reserve the name People Power, just in case we needed to formally register at some point. As expected, we found that this name had been reserved and flagged so that we could not register it,” wrote Bobi Wine. “We knew that the present circumstances have been largely restrictive of political parties. You have all observed the challenges encountered by parties such as the FDC. Our view then was that we should maintain the People Power Movement as the glue that brings all people together, regardless of their political affiliations.”

Bobi Wine noted that its People Power Movement’s liberation agenda had also proven restrictive having been elbowed out of the political space but with NUP, its course for the 2021 election is now legally structured and through it, other like-minded political formations can now join in and prop it in its run against Museveni’s NRM. “You have all observed the challenges encountered by parties such as the FDC. Our view then was that we should maintain the People Power Movement as the glue that brings all people together, regardless of their political affiliations. As you all know, our message has been Mission 2021. Right from 2018, we have been telling all of you to ready yourselves for the 2021 election, because we believe that together, we can and must use that election to overwhelm and remove the dictatorship,” he added.

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Referencing South African liberation hero Nelson Mandela, the self-styled ghetto president reiterated that People Power Movement had not folded. "Finally, let me reiterate that what we are launching today is largely a symbol and a political platform that will usher us into the 2021 election. Akabobero umbrella. But we shall continue to do activities as the People Power Movement. Friends, this is not a new phenomenon. Throughout history, liberation strugglists have often found themselves having to run their course with a political wing and an activist or military wing. We have consistently said that we are a non-violent movement and we have no plans of establishing a military wing. What we are doing today is to launch a political wing of our movement so as to ensure that our mission to use the election as a strategy within the liberation struggle succeeds.”

According to the founder of the party, activist Moses Nkonge Kibalama – a former driver and bodyguard to independence leader Milton Obote, NUP was formed in 2004 and originally went by National Unity, Reconciliation and Development Party (NURP). Speaking to the East African, Kibalama explained that NURP was shelved and revamped after the party leadership sat on July 14, 2020, and resolved to hand over the 25,000 member strong party to the Kyarenga hitmaker. “I wanted to continue with politics and that is why I registered a political party in 2004 called National Unity, Reconciliation and Development Party (NURP). I have been doing my work and that is why my party might have been silent for now. I know Bobi Wine is one of the leaders that proclaims the values that we as a party stand for. He is the leader of the new era and I trust that he can change the government,” said Kibalama.

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A position the MP echoed on Twitter when he underscored why with the party as the vehicle to the 2021 ballot, the People Power Movement can now engage with the electorate with an eye for the presidency in a linear manner. “The people of Kyadondo were easy to convince that Kyagulanyi Ssentamu was the registered version of Bobi Wine in 2017. It's easier to explain to the people of Uganda that National Unity Platform with the Umbrella is the registered version of People Power that will be on the ballot in 2021.”