By Patrick Kagenda
Group bars MPs Akena, Amongi and Ebil from contesting any public office
With time running out for Uganda`s independence party; the UPC, to elect a new party president following the factional infighting, the rift within the party has taken a new dimension.
A group of self-proclaimed UPC leaders from the all-important Lango sub-region claim to have banned MPs Betty Amongi, Fred Ebil and Jimmy Akena from contesting any public office under the party flag. They accuse them of being “anti-UPC”.
During a press briefing held in Lira Town, the Kole District UPC chairman Charles Okeng Olet, said UPC is not ready to accommodate “moles” within the party.
Okello Lucima the party spokesperson while addressing the weekly media briefing in Kampala confirmed the development.
“Yes, we understand a group of UPC leaders from the Lango sub region met and after the meeting, came out with some resolutions which they issued to the media. However as party headquarters we have not yet got the complete minutes of the resolutions but we can confirm the report is accurate.” He said during their meeting, the leaders from the Lango sub region considered issues which are known to the sub region in terms of the party and some of the issues were in regard to the UPC as a national party. Not surprisingly, Lira municipality MP Jimmy Akena, who is a target of the development, dismissed the group and its alleged ban on him.
“There is nothing like the Lango Sub-region UPC Leaders Forum according to the UPC constitution,” he told The Independent, “These are just concoctions of people who were defeated at the primaries and who also tried it out as independents but were again defeated. Some of these people according to the party constitution can even be suspended because of their acts of standing against the party flag bearers.”
Akena added: “The people who will determine the future of the party are in the National Council and the Delegate’s Conference; which we have been calling for, but not these groups that are concocted.”
Party spokesperson Okello Lucima agreed with Akena saying the party does not know what the Lango sub region UPC leaders resolutions mean to the affected people who had intentions to run for public office whether at parliamentary level or to succeed Olara Otunnu as party president.
The new development comes as the party is struggling to operate with a court injunction secured by an Akena-linked faction blocking it from carrying out any activity. The UPC faction dragged outgoing president Otunnu’s administration to court for allegedly running the party without functioning organs. The missing organs include the National Council. They also accuse Otunnnu of failing to call the UPC Delegate’s Conference.
Lucima said the Lango sub-region UPC leader’s action will not affect the ongoing dialogue to resolve the impasse created by the court order. “Contact to have dialogue is ongoing and we will inform Ugandans when we are done,” he said, “Until that is out of the way we cannot tell how soon the Delegate’s Conference is going to convene. However, we are all eager to have that happen as soon as possible.” On that issue of the dialogue Akena sounded exasperated.
“We don’t know what these people want. We met the Otunnu dialogue team, had a fruitful discussions but the following meeting scheduled for March 11, and the one of March 18 were postponed. It is like we are now going in circles.”
Meanwhile as the 2016 national elections approach and the party still struggling to resolve its problems, there are growing concerns from party diehards who are saying the impasse between the two factions could make the party miss fielding a presidential candidate.
But Lucima is reassuring them.
He told The Independent: “The party is seeking all ways and means to ensure that the way is open for the party to move forward, organis itself, mobilise and get on with the business of having conversations with Ugandans on issues of public interest and also to prepare for the 2016 general elections when they do come which is contingent on the enactment of electoral reforms”.