By Patrick Kagenda
Far from resolving the impasse over the party operations, out-going UPC President Olara Otunnu’s March 4 announcement that he will not be seeking re-election has created a new deadlock.
Despite Otunnu’s announcement, however, UPC party activities remain in the balance as mistrust between the opposing camps persists. When Otunnu announced his plans to step aside, the UPC cabinet and elders meeting on March 10 resolved and selected a 10-man dialogue committee to meet with the Rurangaranga/Akena/Pulkol group.
The dialogue teams from both sides are supposed to have commenced discussions that will see the party organs resume work and return the party to normal functioning.
Instead, party stalwarts Betty Amongi Ongom; the woman MP for Oyam South in Oyam district ,and Fred Ebil, the MP for Kole county in Kole District now say Otunnu was merely hoodwinking the public.
The UPC Spokesperson, Okello Lucima, has in turn dismissed their allegations.
“Whether the UPC president is hoodwinking the public or not is a matter of opinion. I know the president is not hoodwinking the public,” he said.
Lucima then hinted on the apparent source of the impasse: “If there had not been any injunction on the UPC activity and those two do acknowledge this as well, we should have been on our way and may be today we could be having new leaders of the party and nobody would like to prevent that.”
“Olara Otunnu is as eager to hand over as soon as possible but it must be done regularly through direct lines, processes, and mechanism that established leadership succession in the UPC that is through the national council and the delegates conference of the party not just any Tom, Dick and Harry walking off the streets and saying I am UPC and so I demand this in the name of UPC,” said Lucima.
He added: “Yes we have established contact to have some of the impasse regarding activity in the party resolved but at the moment I have nothing concrete to report about the process.”
Otunnu’s tenure at Uganda House had been frustrated by a court injunction barring his team from carrying out any party activities. The court issued the injunction after party members; Edward Rurangaranga, Jimmy Akena and David Pulkol, petitioned it. They accused Otunnu of committing illegalities at UPC.
From the look of things, UPC is in a Catch-22: Otunnu says the court injunction must be lifted in order for him to handover office while his opponents say he must quit before the injunction is lifted.
When contacted for comment Jimmy Akena said what Lucima is saying is total misrepresentation. He said they had a meeting on March 9 and we were supposed to meet again on March 11 to resolve the matter before the Otunnu’s term of office came to an end. However the meeting was called off and another one scheduled for March 18 was also called off.
“Besides the court injunction was aimed at stopping the illegal things the Otunnu administration is involved in like working without organs of party. The court injunction also was aimed to compel them to convene organs of the party,” he said, “That said, they should stop their falsehoods.”
Otunnu too is standing his ground in the ensuing verbal war.
“The party should be handled in an orderly manner,” he told The Independent, “We will not succumb to the Amongi/Ebil agenda of just throwing authority at whomever, without going through the party set systems of transparent handover of power.
But even as the disagreements within the UPC persist, party members have begun showing interest in the party presidency.
The first candidate to show interest in the prestigious post is Jimmy Akena, son of the UPC’s founding president; the late former president of Uganda Apollo Milton Obote.
Akena on March 17 announced how he was offering his candidature for the party presidency. David Pulkol is also said to be interested in the job. Should he throw his hat in the ring, it will be interesting to see how he squares off with his ally, Jimmy Akena.