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Otunnu is not automatic IPC joint presidential candidate for 2011

By Bob Roberts Katende

Conservative Party president Ken Lukyamuzi is the current head of the opposition Inter-Party Cooperation. Bob Roberts Katende spoke to him about its recent retreat in Jinja.

What’s your take on the appointment of Electoral Commissioners against the interparty cooperation’s call to have an input in composition of the commission?

As chairman of the Inter-Party Cooperation (IPC), I was saddened by the manner in which the Speaker of Parliament rushed through the vetting exercise of these officers, the manner which made many to believe there was a hidden agenda to avoid scrutiny by the appointments team of parliament.

Secondly, noting that the Supreme Court had given certain recommendations with reference to the 2006 presidential elections which were messed up by the Electoral Commission, one would have expected parliament to have first scrutinised those recommendations before sanctioning the officers of the Electoral Commission.

Given the situation, what are IPC’s plans?

IPC has made fundamental recommendations which must not be ignored. We are not going to honour selection of commissioners of the Electoral Commission which do not involve political parties. We are arranging a demonstration that will take place in two weeks time and we are thinking of dragging the attorney general to the Constitutional Court. We intend to be together on the August 22, in Hoima to openly begin decampaining the law bad laws of the National Resistance Movement (NRM). We don’t need another situation where one will be forced to go to the bush to fight bad electoral laws. We have also met the European Union and told them it’s a taboo for them to extend taxpayers’ money in Europe to fund bad elections. They should be mindful of that.

Have you agreed on a joint candidate?

I think that point has been looming very large but we are not rushing into it to open the eyes of our opponent. In our meeting of party leaders in Jinja, we had a consensus that we are going to launch another protocol which will lead us to an agreement on a common candidate. We also agreed to constitute the Inter-Party Alliance and Inter-Party General Assembly comprising about 700 people from all the parties. I think the choice of a candidate will be done through such an assembly.

Why is Olara Otunnu coming into the picture now?

He is a prominent Ugandan who has a record of concern for human rights, freedom of children and he has been away for 23 years. He left this country through anguish and torture. We are concerned about threats on him from government, especially minister Kirunda Kivejinja, scaring him that if he comes back he may be prosecuted. Whether he becomes the flagbearer of IPC is not automatic. He has to first go through his political party ‘UPC, they select him and the representative body of UPC in the IPC National Conference can begin campaigning for him to be fronted as a flag-bearer for IPC.

IPC is about parties not individuals. So why are you singling out Otunnu?

They are zeroing on him because they are ware of what happened to Besigye and the government tendency of scaring people like him who have intentions of standing for power. He could equally be terrorised by the Museveni regime. That is why we are coming at the forefront to see that nobody scares him, even if he is not necessarily our presidential flag-bearer.

IPC is pondering on fielding a joint presidential candidate, will this be the case with all other electoral posts?

We have priorities to begin with; the presidency, Members of Parliament, LC V and III. Then we will move on. As we speak now multipartyism has been starved at other levels. But, many political parties in view of what has happened in recent bye-elections have started seeing the sense in working together. If a party loses at a presidential level, it can gain at the parliamentary level, if it doesn’t, it might gain at the local government level.

The IPC is at the top while at there are no party structures at the grassroots. What sort of political strategy is that?

The population is already ahead of us in endeavoring to form such a cooperation. That’s why we want to move together to exploit the same platform and sell the cooperation and after that we expect to get more support from the people.

And the challenges?

There are parties like DP which have not come on board. They are not necessarily negative about the cooperation but I think they have a problem of their Delegates’ Conference where they want to sell the idea. Other political parties have applied to join the cooperation. Political parties are not trading companies, they belong to a spectrum. Just like Obama said in Ghana, what we need are strong institutions not strong individuals.

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