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DP approves joint opposition candidate

By Flavia Nassaka

At the weekly press conference at the Democratic Party (DP) headquarters in Kampala, Samuel Lubega showed up after a long time.  He took some party faithful by surprise because he had left on a bad note in 2011.

He had then defied the DP delegates’ conference by standing against Nobert Mao who the party had fronted as its presidential candidate in the 2011 race.

Clad in a green suit, and looking composed, Lubega said: “I have come back home to make peace and am representing the faction that boycotted the Mbale conference in 2010 on grounds of constitutional contradictions”. He said he is convinced that this time, the amendments are to be made.

Receiving Lubega, Secretary General, Mathias Nsubuga, told journalists that reconciliations are not done on the streets and that DP doors are open to all the members who had strayed and have decided to return home.

He then announced the dates for the National Executive Committee (NEC) retreat which was held in Masaka between Mar.12 and 14 aimed at adopting amendments to the constitution that had made the likes of Lubega defy the law and also boycott party events.

Lubega’s return, therefore, is part of fence-mending within the party.

A week earlier, the DP leadership in Masaka District had reconciled with Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga and welcomed him back to the party. He too had fallen out when he stood as an independent candidate in the 2011 parliamentary race against the flag-bearer, John Baptist Kawanga, the now National Vice President.

Speaking to the Independent, DP Attorney General Mukasa Mbidde said during the retreat members agreed to front a single opposition candidate to take on President Yoweri Museveni in the 2016 Presidential race.

He said the constitution could not allow them front a stronger candidate to defeat Museveni in 2011 and thus the party was seen by other opposition parties as an obstacle towards the cause of  bringing change, a thing they do not want to see happen again.

According to the current constitution, party members are barred from working with other political parties to nominate and support a single candidate for an elective position outside the party circles.

During the retreat attended by the president, vice president, regional leaders, youth leaders and a woman representative and her deputy, members also approved the road map and set June 18 to 21 as the date for the delegates’ conference.

Among other issues discussed was a two term limit for the president, introduction of the Elders’ League and the electoral reforms that are yet to be approved by the President.

Answering questions about internal wrangles, Nsubuga told The Independent they “are working towards a nationalistic approach to issues”. He said this is something that has been missing in the party with some members claiming to be more of DP members than others.  He said that unlike NRM, members who intend to vie for party presidency were also encouraged to prepare since it’s from them that they’ll choose the strongest to represent the opposition.

Apart from Lubega who has publically announced his plans to stand again, Lord Mayor Elias Lukwago and Mukasa Mbidde are some of those that hope to compete. It’s still unclear whether Nobert Mao will stand again as he said he’s still undecided but will communicate when the right time comes.

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