Buyaga West legislator, Barnabas Tinkasimire says he is still a committed member of the ruling political party, National Resistance Movement (NRM) and that he cannot quit to join an opposition pressure group like ‘People Power.’
The controversial legislator made the comment on Monday while appearing on a talk show on Top Television.
Tinkasimire is one of the individuals tagged NRM ‘rebel’ MPs, for consistently disagreeing with a number of party positions. He is among the 30 legislators from the ruling party who opposed the removal of the Presidential age caps that made President Yoweri Museveni eligible to stand in next year’s presidential elections.
He has since been appointed by the ‘People Power’ leader also Kyadondo East MP, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu alias Bobi Wine to head the pressure group’s coordination team in Bunyoro region.
When NRM Secretary General Justine Kasule Lumumba announced that all NRM MPs who didn’t support the removal presidential age limits were not welcome for the National Executive Council and National Conference meetings held last week, Tinkasimire told SoftPower News that he cared less.
“Should I commit suicide because NRM has blocked me from attending the Delegates Conference? Am I in Parliament because of the Delegates Conference? My powers are in the people of Buyaga County.”
But when the party overturned the decision and allowed them to attend, the legislator was among the many who attended. Others included Theodore Ssekikubo and Monica Amoding. Their colleague Patrick Nsamba Oshabe refused to attend.
Tinkasimire’s attendance however sparked discussion within the public especially on the side of the Opposition particularly ‘People Power’ movement who have since claimed betrayal on the side of the lawmaker.
During the TV talk show on Monday, Tinkasimire who credited the NRM party for respecting the party constitution and allowed them (Rebel MPs) to attend the meetings, watered down claims of betraying anybody on grounds that he has never said anywhere that he left NRM.
“Those ‘People Power’ people accusing me of attending the NRM conferences think that they started a political party and I joined it, which is not true. Did they want me to go to NRM National Conference with a red beret? Do you think I would be fine upstairs if I did that yet I know that my NRM party colour is yellow?”
“There is no forum where I went and said that I am no longer an NRM member. Deep deep inside my heart, I am NRM and I will never abandon it. I studied Political Science at Makerere University at both Bachelors and Masters level as well law and so I understand what I am doing,” said Tinkasimire on Monday.
According to him, the country is under multiparty dispensation and he is more comfortable being in NRM, a known registered political party than being in a pressure group.
“If you are saying that I leave a political party, what will then convince me to join? This is a multiparty dispensation, you want me, a person who studied Political Science from Makerere University, a person who has a Masters Degree in Political Acience from Makerere University to leave NRM, a political party to a pressure group, I haven’t reached that level,” said the Legislator.
He explained that leaders and supported of the ‘People Power’ group clearly know that he subscribes to the ruling party and that the day, they will announce cutting ties with anyone in the NRM, he will be the first to quit them.
“When I joined ‘People Power’, he (Bobi Wine) knew that I was NRM and even when I support him, he still knows that I am NRM. If he says that I don’t need support from any person from the NRM, definitely me I will be out,” he explained.
Tinkasimire says attending the two party conferences doesn’t imply that he supports President Museveni who has since been endorsed by CEC and NRM Caucus to stand as a sole candidates for Presidency next year.
The MP says during the consultations in 2017 on removing the age caps, his electorate tasked him to only support a candidate below 75 years of age.
Asked whether he will consider soliciting votes for Bobi Wine in next year’s presidential elections if his party fronts another candidate other than President Museveni and one below 75 years, Tinkasimire said he wouldn’t..
“That’s what we are fighting for. I will support the NRM candidate because I am NRM. We want a candidate who can compete and defeat Bobi Wine within our party. What President Museveni has are the security forces which will beat and arrest Bobi Wine but he can’t win him in a ballot box in a free and fair election,” he said.
Tinkasimire says no body wouldn’t want to be in NRM due to its four core values which include Patriotism, Social Economic transformation, Pan-Africanism and Democracy.