KAMPALA- The current political environment in the country is too hostile to hold the Inter- party Organisation for Dialogue (Ipod) summit, the FDC vice president eastern, Ms Salaam Musumba, has said.
Ipod was formed in 2009 to enable political parties with representation in Parliament to regularly meet and discuss matters of national interest and contestation for harmony.
Ipod is set to hold summit on December 12 but so far, FDC and DP have announced that they will not be part of the meeting that will be attended by President Museveni.
And Ms Musumba said that FDC cannot sit down for discussion with a ruling party that does not respect multiparty democracy.
“We think that for us to be part of a summit in an environment that is allergic to democracy is not helping and is sending a wrong message to the country. We’ve sought more time to allow the state to step back from this threat to constitutional order,” she said during NBS TV’s political talkshow, the Frontline, on Thursday evening.
“Ipod isn’t about President Museveni, it’s about Uganda, and the multi-party infrastructure that isn’t respected. Our issues aren’t going away because they’re a threat to the IPOD summit, to the rule of law and multi-party dispensation,” she added.
The FDC’s decision to pull out of the summit comes on the backdrop of the blocking of the party’s meetings and rallies countrywide by police. Last month, the party leadership was denied from holding consultative meetings in Kasese and last week in Rukungiri District.
And it is these issues that Ms Musumba said are making Ipod meaningless.
“We need time, in choosing 12th December as the day for the summit we were very ambitious and the party organs that should support this dialogue aren’t yet in sync with the party members. We’ve done enough preparatory work and we should be comfortable that the agenda is good but the threats outside the process are bigger than what is within, so we must balance the process and the procedure to give us comfort,” she added.
MP Anywarach Joshua agreed with Ms Musumba, saying that whereas Ipod has good intentions, the players are not fair.
“Ipod is operating within a framework and it’s a document. If you clearly look at this MOU, everyone signed at different times which means they didn’t discuss this together. I love the spirit of this IPOD, my only problem is that the background of this country is suspicion and you’re dealing with people who have gone to the bush. That’s why even where to meet is a problem,” he said.
However, minister for Housing Chris Baryomunsi played down the issue of a political standoff in the country that warrants pulling out of the summit.
“It’s very strange that opposition wants to talk but when the chairman of NRM President Museveni comes to talk, they chicken out, I don’t understand them. If you withdraw, what platform will you use to table your issues, this is the perfect time for you to come and talk about what you don’t like,” he said.
“As far as we’re concerned, we don’t see any crisis that should push FDC to leave. What I see here is a Narcissistic disorder, this is what FDC is suffering with, FDC has been constant in fearing forums where NRM is. FDC with due respect shouldn’t hide its weakness despite what has happened in the past, they shouldn’t think that Ugandans out there are gullible. Even if you have those issues, this is an opportunity for you to table them and we should see the country bigger than the individuals and leaders. However, FDC is consistent in boycotting parliament, EALA and all that,” he added.
The Executive Director of the Uganda Media Centre, Mr Ofwono Opondo, also wondered why FDC and DP committed to Ipod yet they cannot fulfill the requirements of the MOU.
“I think dialogue convened by whosoever is good, in this particular case, the parties in parliament according to the MOU agreed to be meeting regularly. I think Frank Rusa (from Ipod) should help us, he says they went through the party and the principles, can he list the various agenda that they committed themselves to,” he said.
“Who actually communicates on behalf of FDC with IPOD in regards to this matter because several FDC leaders have been in media saying different thigs. According to Hon. Musumba, it’s NRM not government that is coming to IPOD, so, why would you hold NRM for the glitches being done by the state? I think it would be good to write back to Rusa and say that the issue of harassment of political parties and their leaders to be agenda one. But even if it was rejected, it’s the more reason for you to come and discuss the matter. I think there are a number of squealers in FDC as the leading voices of the party. The leadership of FDC is known for trying to obstruct. I think the problem is in the current leadership of FDC, they’re full of themselves. Nobody beats NRM leadership in being flexible and talking, while we have big problems in the country, we’re not in a war situation, that’s why the opposition are saying they need a neutral situation. (SFC) will provide special security because the president provides security at the summit. Our colleagues need to know that we shall be here, if they’re not yet ready we can give them as much time as they want even beyond 2021 to harmonize the agenda. NRM will be ready, let FDC go and deal with the disagreements of the agenda, they can come back after 2021 when they are ready,” he added.
However, Mr Rusa insisted that the summit will go ahead.
“I don’t believe everyone is leaving, apart from FDC, all the other parties are still with us and if things go as they are right now, we shall have the summit on 12th Dec. All throughout this time since 2009 when IPOD was founded, members would meet regularly and develop the culture of discussing as legitimate political contenders. In 2017, they signed another MOU and one of the principal things was the need to meet and agree on an agenda for the discussion, every principal leader of all these parties committed to having the summit, they signed for it and we set the ball rolling. The last person to get on board was the president of Uganda, the team of IPOD visited the president and he agreed to meet in a neutral place and 12th Dec was suggested and agreed upon with an agenda already identified by the council. We’ve been preparing and we’re in the final stages of the summit. However a few days ago, FDC raised patent issues of how their people are being harassed by the party in power.”