The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), founded on December 16, 2004, is the main opposition party in Uganda.
FDC was founded as an umbrella body called Reform Agenda, mostly for disenchanted former members and followers of President Yoweri Museveni's National Resistance Movement.
Founder party president Kizza Besigye, formerly a close ally of Museveni, was a presidential candidate in the 2001, 2006 and 2011 presidential elections. In November 2012, Mugisha Muntu was elected as President of the FDC. His five-year term of office will run until after the presidential and general elections slated for early 2016.
FDC was the greatest challenge to the National Resistance Movement in the 2006 presidential and parliamentary elections. Besigye was the party's presidential candidate, taking 37% of the vote against Museveni's 59%. Besigye alleged fraud and rejected the results.
In the general election of 23 February 2006, the party won 37 out of 289 elective seats. In the 2011 election, the party performed worse with Besigye getting 26.01% of the vote, and the party winning 34 seats.
The origins of the Forum for Democratic Change are intertwined with the history of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) led by President Yoweri Museveni. The NRM through its military wing the National Resistance Army fought a successful guerrilla war against the governments of Milton Obote and Tito Okello and came to power in Uganda in 1986.
During the guerrilla war, Yoweri Museveni successfully moulded various interest groups into an effective military machine, and on achieving power began to build the NRM into a cohesive political organisation.
The transition process and the NRM's desire to broaden its political base revealed other interests within the party and a feeling amongst some senior members of being sidelined.
Some people started challenging the President, including the army commander Major General Mugisha Muntu and other once powerful NRM leaders. Many of these leaders opted for quiet retirement in their home districts, but others like Mugisha Muntu and the former NRM spokesperson Winnie Byanyima began openly criticising Museveni.
However, there appeared to be little enthusiasm to completely break with the NRM, rather to encourage change from within.
This changed in the elections in 2001 when a retired NRA officer Col. Kizza Besigye challenged Museveni for the presidency. Besigye was relatively unknown outside the NRM/NRA establishment, but his courage in standing for election attracted both curiosity and support.
The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) was formally established in 2004. Kizza Besiyge had gone into exile in the United States and then South Africa.
However, the genesis of the party was in Uganda where many disgruntled NRM members were actively promoting the establishment of a political organisation to challenge Yoweri Museveni. This desire was further cemented when Parliament passed the motion to lift term limits, which allowed Museveni to contest in 2006 and subsequent elections.
This had angered many NRM veterans who had remained in the NRM waiting to take over when Museveni stood down. The constitutional amendment was criticised by some of Museveni's closest allies such as Eriya Kategaya (RIP), at the time seen by many as the number two in the NRM/NRA political hierarchy. However, this opposition did not bother Museveni who had by now firmly established himself in the NRM.
The FDC benefited from this disquiet, and when Besiyge returned to Uganda he found the FDC had considerable support even within the ranks of the NRM. Although it was doubtful that Besigye could win an election against Museveni, the fact that he was attracting support from the army officers brought the spectre of a split in the army. The FDC had many ex-NRA commanders in its ranks, including the former army commander, Mugisha Muntu.
Besigye's arrest served to increase the popularity of the FDC. But the party now began to suffer due to its success. However, politicians such as Eriya Kategaya, who was now in the FDC leadership, were tentative in their approach.
The FDC was popular in urban areas like the capital city, Kampala, but had little support in the rural areas where 75% of the population lives.
The FDC and Besigye were also popular in the North where the population has suffered almost two decades of war between the government and the Lord's Resistance Army. This was a reflection of the grievances felt by northern Ugandans who often feel abandoned by the government in Kampala.
In 2011, the FDC once again led the opposition to Museveni and the NRM in the presidential and parliamentary elections. The party once again failed to overturn Museveni's popularity.
The FDC did worse than in 2006. Since the election, the party has been central in organising street demonstrations - some which have resulted in violent confrontations with the Police.