Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Democratic Party-DP has finally agreed to hand over leadership of the Inter-Party Organisations for Dialogue to the Forum for Democratic Change-FDC party.
IPOD is a platform that brings together parties with representation in parliament including the National Resistance Movement (NRM), Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Democratic Party (DP), UPC and Justice Forum (JEEMA) and is supported by the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD).
The IPOD leadership rotates among subscribing the parties. The term of DP expired on September 20th, 2019. DP was expected to handover the IPOD leadership to FDC but this didn’t happen. DP said FDC hadn’t been committed to IPOD, which made it doubtful if they could take over and commit to its leadership.
DP demanded that FDC writes to commit to lead IPOD, a proposal that was flatly rejected by Uganda’s biggest opposition party, saying the parties are guided by a Memorandum of Understanding- MoU, which says each party should hold power for six months and handover. The MoU, FDC argued did not demand writing a commitment letter.
Now, Norbert Mao, the DP President, says they are ready to meet FDC and discuss the handover. This is contained his November 20th letter to the Executive Secretary of IPOD Frank Rusa. Mao says they would be meeting the FDC party president, Patrick Amuriat and should handover by the end of November.
“I wish to inform you that after meeting the president of FDC in a few days’ time, we should organize a handover ceremony before the end of this month. A lot of damage has been done and none of the IPOD members has been left unscathed. It is now up to all of us to repair the damage, mend fences and heal the broken relationship. I will update you after we have met with the FDC President,” read the letter in part
Although FDC is set to take over the IPOD leadership, it has been known to be distant from some of its activities. FDC boycotted the IPOD summit in 2018 and May 2019. FDC refused to be a part of a meeting to which, the ruling National Resistance Movement-NRM was party because of its continued crack down on opposition events using security under the guise of enforcing the Public Order Management Act 2013.
They accused the ruling party of infringing on their freedom of expression and association. FDC’s decision to snub the summit has been interpreted as an act of intolerance for NRM. Mao in the letter also expressed dismay that if IPOD cannot resolve matters such as the attitude of one member towards another then it will not be able to tackle the problems that Uganda faces.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand. IPOD members have to find common ground. After all, dialogue is not an end in itself. It is but a means to an end,” Mao said. The FDC spokesperson, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda told URN in a phone interview that FDC is ready like before to meet DP and any other opposition party.
The FDC President, Patrick Amuriat also told URN that the party is ready to take over the IPOD leadership. He says that they couldn’t put their commitment into writing because it isn’t a condition in the MoU that guides the parties.
Frank Rusa, the IPOD Executive Secretary told URN that they have been engaging the parties to see that there is transfer of leadership, adding that he is glad that DP is set for the handover. He says that as the IPOD secretariat, they are ready to support the parties to achieve the goals of the organisations.