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ANALYSIS: Besigye-Museveni talks

European Union joins religious leaders to pile pressure on Museveni

Ever since the last general elections to date, a host of organisations and individuals, including two former presidential candidates, have called for a national dialogue over Uganda’s political trajectory. They argue that it is the best way to secure the country’s peace and future.

The Delegation of the European Union to Uganda has added its voice to these calls, saying Uganda is losing precious time to initiate and successfully conclude talks over unresolved political issues and the future direction of the country. They say it should not squander it anymore.

As the EU sees it, Uganda’s still prevailing peace and stability provides sufficient conditions that are absent from some of its neighbours who are in the throes of similar election related stalemates and are trying in vain to pursue some form of national dialogue to try to resolve them.

“We detect that there are unsettled issues in your politics and it is the nature of multiparty democracy to sit down and talk,” the EU Ambassador Kristian Schmidt told a select group of reporters he met on April 6 over the upcoming EU’s 60th anniversary.

“We believe as the European Union that you will find no better time than now; between two elections, to have that conversation between the government, the NRM, the FDC, the opposition – widely speaking all political parties, about the future of the country,”  said Schmidt.

“So, obviously (national dialogue) you don’t want it when you are in the middle of a crisis. South Sudan is pursuing national dialogue now, DRC is pursuing national dialogue but when you have tension and conflict it is very difficult to get the parties to meet.

“In Uganda you have, by comparison, social peace and stability. Have that conversation. Europe will be having a conversation about our future and people don’t agree, but it is exactly when you disagree you need to sit down and discuss,” he noted.

The necessity for dialogue has become all the more important as the NRM appears determined to scrap the age limit – the only remaining legal hurdle in longtime President Yoweri Museveni’s evident bid for a life presidency.

He is ineligible to stand in 2021 because he will be 77 – two years above the constitutional cap – but his party is expected to meet this month where the age limit is top on the agenda.

While Museveni has said before that he will “certainly not” cling to power past the age of 75 years, on March 21 he was noncommittal, calling the age limit and transition “small things”.

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